With heavily favored Solomini a non-factor, Draft Pick stalked the early pace, swung three-wide turning for home and rallied impressively through the lane to take Sunday's Grade III, $100,000 Affirmed Stakes under Joe Talamo by 2 ½ lengths at Santa Anita in Arcadia, Calif. Owned by Lee and Susan Searing's C R K Stable, LLC and trained by Peter Eurton, Draft Pick got a mile and one sixteenth in 1:44.34.
“We had a perfect trip,” said Talamo. “I was real happy with my position and when we swung out around those two horses on the lead (Afleet Ascent and Axelrod), he really took off…Full credit to Pete, this horse is getting better and better. He finished up today like a serious horse.”
A 5 ½ length maiden special weight winner going the same distance here on May 12, Draft Pick, a Kentucky-bred colt by Candy Ride, was off at 4-1 in a field of six sophomores and paid $10.20, $5.40 and $2.40.
“He was definitely up to the task today, wasn't he?” said Eurton. “The track has to be a little bit slow and the 49 and change half didn't hurt. The way he's doing right now and the fact that the light has really come on with him is huge.”
A $450,000 Keeneland September Yearling Sale purchase, Draft Pick, who is out of the Arch mare Firehouse Red, made his first stakes start a winning one and improved his overall mark to 7-2-0-2. With the winner's share of $60,000, he increased his earnings to $112,080.
Longshot Axelrod, who sat second behind Afleet Ascent to the top of the stretch, ran gamely to out-finish Solomini by three quarters of a length. Ridden by Alonso Quinonez, Axelrod was the longest shot in the field at 23-1 and paid $16.60 and $3.60.
Solomini, who had been idle since running 10th, beaten 11 lengths by Justify in the Grade I Kentucky Derby May 5, tried to rally four-wide turning for home but could not get on terms with the winner as he stayed on his left lead. Off at 1-5 under Martin Garcia, he paid $2.10 to show.
“He just wasn't there for me today,” said Garcia. “I was asking him to run at the three eighths and he just wasn't himself.”
Fractions on the Affirmed were 24.60, 49.13, 1:13.55 and 1:38.02.
Racing resumes with an eight-race card on Thursday at 12:30 p.m. Admission gates will open at 10 a.m.
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