Victorious in last year's Santa Anita Derby, Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, the triumvirate of owner Paul Reddam, jockey Mario Gutierrez and trainer Doug O'Neill tasted Grade I victory again on Saturday as they combined to win Santa Anita's Grade I FrontRunner Stakes with Bond Holder by 2 ¼ lengths, thus stamping a ticket to the $2 million Breeders' Cup Juvenile at The Great Race Place Nov. 2.
Far back early in a field of 10, Bond Holder, winless in four previous starts, angled out entering the stretch and finished in a manner that belied his 10-1 odds, getting the 1 1/16 miles in 1:45.02.
“This race set up great for my horse because he likes to come from behind,” said Gutierrez. “He seemed to like the distance today and I think that played a major part in his win. I don't think the dirt made much of a difference because he runs everywhere.”
Fractions on the race were 22.58, 46.62, 1:11.76 and 1:38.28.
A Virginia-bred by Mineshaft, Bond Holder paid $23.80, $8.60 and $3.80.
With the winner's share of $150,000, Bond Holder nearly quintupled his earnings, which now total $186,000. He now has a win, a second and two thirds from five starts.
Second in the Grade I Del Mar Futurity Sept. 4, Dance With Fate, ridden by Rafael Bejarano, was the 2-1 favorite and finished two lengths clear of Futurity winner Tamarando and Julien Leparoux.
“I had a good trip,” said Bejarano. “There was no problem…He was in position. The winner came on in the end. He was the better horse today.”
Dance With Fate paid $3.80 and $2.80.
Last early due to a bad start, Tamarando, with Julien Leparoux up, finished three quarters of a length in front of Can the Man and paid $3.20 to show.
“He moved right before they opened the gate,” said Leparoux. “He put his head to the side, and we tried, but we missed the break. I tried to get closer to the pace on the first turn but I was behind two horses. If I tried to move too early, I was going to be wide, too, so after that, I had to be patient and see where I could move. He ran well today.”
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MARIO GUTIERREZ, BOND HOLDER, WINNER: “This race set up great for my horse because he likes to come from behind. He seemed to like the distance today and I think that played a major part in his win. I don't think the dirt made much of a difference because he runs everywhere; it was the distance that was the biggest factor.”
RAFAEL BEJARANO, DANCE WITH FATE, SECOND: “I had a good trip. There was no problem. He broke really well. He was in position. The winner came on in the end. He was the better horse today.”
JULIEN LEPAROUX, TAMARANDO, THIRD: “He moved right before they opened the gate. He put his head to the side, and we tried, but we missed the break. I tried to get closer to the pace on the first turn but I was behind two horses. If I tried to move too early I was going to be wide, too, so after that, I had to be patient and see where I could move. He ran well today.”
LEANDRO MORA, ASSISTANT TO DOUG O'NEILL, BOND HOLDER, WINNER: “We had great expectations for this horse even though he was a maiden. He ran a huge race at Del Mar (second on Aug. 31) and we knew we had a legitimate horse. Mario (Gutierrez) has ridden the horse every time but we told him just to let the horse alone and let him do his thing the last quarter of a mile. That's the way this horse likes to run; the last quarter of a mile.”
Told it was great day for Team O'Neill with Private Zone winning the Grade I Vosburgh earlier today at Belmont: “Two Grade I's and also Square Eddie (2008 Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner) made a name for himself as a stallion with another baby (Versye) winning the first race here today.”
PETER EURTON, DANCE WITH FATE, SECOND: I think he broke well, which was a big key. I think he laid up close which I think was an important factor for him. I think the dirt bothered him a little bit in his face, which is why he took it outside. It hit him a little bit on the first turn. I think he's maturing, but I think overall, he rated well. It was a good productive race.”
(On his recent form) “He's only run three times now, second down in Del Mar was a big key, because he had never run against that caliber of horses before. Over here was a key to see if he can handle the dirt as well as he handled the synthetic. He's trained well on it, but he's still learning. I think we're going in the right direction for Breeders' Cup.”
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