In his second start off a lengthy layoff, owner/trainer William Morey's Rye saved every inch of ground under Kent Desormeax as he successfully defended his title in Saturday's $200,000 Unusual Heat Turf Classic at Santa Anita Park. A 6-year-old full horse by English Channel, out of the Unusual Heat mare Phi Beta Heat, Rye got a mile and one eighth on turf in 1:47.56.
“He is one of my favorite horses to ride, and that's exactly why,” said Desormeaux. “When you're driving a Ferrari and you press the gas, you can get to those pockets that create themselves there for a few seconds, he got in there in a couple of strides, full credit to this guy right here (Bill Morey) he brought him with his eyes burning red and he just gave me a great ride.”
One of four Saturday stakes restricted to horses bred or sired in California, the Unusual Heat Turf Classic is part of the lucrative Golden State Series, which is sponsored by the CTBA.
Breaking from post position three in a field of nine older horses, Rye had three horses beat around the Club House turn and appeared comfortable as he maintained a stalking position into the far turn under a long hold from Desormeaux.
A quarter mile out, it appeared Rye would go for an opening three off the fence, just to the outside of Accountability and Joe Talamo, but Desormeaux instead dove to the rail and with favored Ashleyluvssugar hung wide, prevailed easily.
“The harrowing moment was at the quarter pole, where the horse that was second in flight in front of me (Accountability),” the jockey explained. “I wanted to go around him and just as I went to go around him he…(Accountability) went to go around the leader so I literally jumped heels there with Rye, and he did it and he didn't clip heels but his feet hit the ground, he saw the pocket and he just dove for it.”
Idle since May 20 prior to running fourth, beaten five lengths in six furlong tune-up on synthetic Tapeta at Golden Gate Fields Jan. 10, Rye was off at 5-1 and paid $13.40, $6.40 and $5.00.
“It worked out perfectly,” Morey concurred. “I told my rider (at Golden Gate Fields) that we wanted him to finish well and that if it was safe to gallop on out and he did. He is getting older. I'd like to spot his races wisely so I had some options but I decided to wait and really get him cranked up for this race. This is one horse that I can say I really know pretty well and I let him tell me.”
Bred in California by H & E Ranch, Rye, who notched his third career stakes win, improved his overall mark to 21-9-0-5 and with the winner's check of $120,000, increased his earnings to $446,118.
“I think it was a tremendous effort and all of the credit goes to Bill because the horse got a little sour some time ago, probably the last ride that I rode him, he just took me for a gallop. He didn't race at all,” continued Desormeaux. “Bill brought him back breathing fire today.”
Ashleyluvssugar, who bobbled a bit at the break, was nonetheless mid-pack while well within himself around the first turn and onto the backstretch, all the while saving ground under Tyler Baze. Fifth at the quarter pole, he wheeled six-wide turning for home and was clearly second best on the day, finishing 1 ¾ lengths in front of Accountability.
Off as the 5-2 favorite, Ashleyluvssugar paid $4.60 and $3.80.
Accountability, off at 17-1 with Talamo, paid $8.00 to show while finishing three quarters of a length in front of pacesetter King Abner.
Note: The Turf Classic was win number 5,999 for Desormeaux, a longtime time member of racing's Hall of Fame.
Fractions on the race were 24.01, 47.73, 1:11.74 and 1:36.07.
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