Milt Gilman, W.C. Racing and Westside Rentals.com's homebred Denman's Call was the upset victor of Saturday's G1 Triple Bend Stakes at Santa Anita, besting multiple G1-winning sprinter Masochistic by a length at the wire. The 4-year-old son of Northern Afleet was marking just the second win of his eight-race career, covering seven furlongs over Santa Anita's fast main track in 1:20.94. Denman's Call, named for long-time Santa Anita announcer Trevor Denman, was ridden to victory by Tyler Baze for trainer Doug O'Neill, giving each his second victory in the event.
“I was very fortunate to get back on this horse, and I really believe in him,” Baze said. “He's something special. He just went where I pointed him today. There wasn't a whole lot of room down there on the rail, but that was my only option at the time. When I said 'let's go,' he went. That length off the rail was really there the whole race. It started getting tighter and tighter, and I said 'If I don't go now, I might be stuck in a bad situation.' I pulled the trigger, and he answered.”
Masochistic broke extraordinarily sharply front gate 5, and as expected went straight to the lead. He had a two-length lead and everything his own way in the race, setting early fractions of :22.94 and :45.22 alone on the front end. Conquest Cobra was just off the leader in second, with Denman's Call getting a great stalking trip along the rail in third position.
Rounding the far turn, Baze moved Denman's Call up the rail and probed at Masochistic for room to pass along the inside. Clearly with a lot of horse on his hands, Baze had a hard time convincing the colt to not run right over top of Masochistic in the turn, and luckily Masochistic drifted out just wide enough at the head of the lane for Denman's Call to blaze through along the rail.
“I made a mistake staying off the rail a bit too much,” admitted Smith. “I thought I was on it pretty good, but old Tyler was stuck right in my blind spot. I thought I felt somebody back there, but I could swear it was to my outside. I looked over to my right, then looked back and he was inside. It was a great move on his part, and not so good on mine. In saying that, my horse ran well. He got a little tired, but I certainly didn't need to let him through.”
Once he was three-quarters of a length in front, Denman's Call didn't extend any more than the necessary effort to keep Masochistic at bay, and held him off all the way down the lane to win by about a length on the wire. Conquest Cobra hung on for third, and Silent Bird was fourth.
“He was sitting on a good race, you just never know where the class is,” O'Neill said of Denman's Call. “I always think of the paddock like a pasture when you kick four or five new horses out there; within seconds you have a pecking order. If they lose in the paddock you usually know you're in trouble. He handled himself like he was a leaser down there the whole time today. That definitely tipped me off that he was going to run the way he's been training.”
Bred in Kentucky by Milt Gilman, W.C. Racing and Mark Verge, Denman's Call is out of a winning daughter of Salt Lake (Deputy Minister). He won at first asking as a 3-year-old, and earned a couple of stakes placings to be considered on the Derby trail. Laid up for six months, he returned to finish third in a pair of allowance races at the beginning of 2017, just prior to his Triple Bend victory. Overall, Denman's Call has a record of 2-1-3 from eight starts, with earnings of nearly $340,000.
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