As he's done literally thousands of times throughout his Hall of Fame career, Kent Desormeaux timed it to the minute when the big money was down in Saturday's $200,000 Unusual Heat Turf Classic at Santa Anita, as he was just up to win by head aboard aboard Rye, a 5-year-old full horse by English Channel. Bred in California by H & E Ranch, Rye got a mile and one eighth on turf in 1:48.01.
Next to last with a quarter mile to run, Desormeaux worked out a perfect trip and was able to exploit fractions of 23.44, 46.87, 1:11.63 and 1:35.94 and thus provide a red-hot Billy Morey with his second training win on the day. Morey now has two stakes wins at the current meet and he's won with nine out of his 14 starts—a 64 percent strike rate.
Off as the 2-1 favorite in a field of nine older horses bred or sired in California, Rye paid $6.00, $3.60 and $2.80.
Owned by the Joseph P. Morey Jr. Revocable Trust, Rye, who is out of the Unusual Heat mare Phi Beta Heat, improved his overall record to 16-8-0-4. With the winner's share of $120,000, he increased his earnings to $317,199.
Finishing a tough luck second was Camino Del Paraiso, who completely lost his action leaving the three furlong pole, but regained his footing and just missed the win, finishing a head in front of Accountability.
Off at 3-1 with Flavien Prat, Camino Del Paraiso paid $4.60 and $3.60.
A huge longshot under Drayden Van Dyke at 45-1, Accountability, who finished three quarters of a length in front of He Will, paid $8.80 to show.
First post time for a nine-race card on Sunday is at 12:30 p.m. Admission gates open at 10:30 a.m. For additional information, please visit santaanita.com.
KENT DESORMEAUX, RYE, WINNER: “It was very eventful. The horse in front of me almost fell at the three-eighths pole. I was enjoying the ride. I felt like I couldn't lose. This little guy had to show some guts and determination. He gave it his all.”
FLAVIEN PRAT, CAMINO DEL PARAISO, SECOND: “At the three eighths pole, he switched leads and ducked in, so I had to take a hold of him…It cost me the race.”
WILLIAM MOREY: “I wasn't sure he got up, but I had to watch theslow-mo replay, and then I knew we got up. Then they hang up an inquiry, but that (activity) was behind us. This was the first horse that really got Kent Desormeaux and me together, a year and a half ago at Del Mar. He rode him on opening day and he won a Cal-bred first condition allowance, came from last and charged home. That gave Kent confidence in me and me confidence in him and we've been a good team ever since.
“This is my biggest win purse money-wise and I think we're nine for 14 here (at the Winter Meet, which is correct). It's amazing, but I'm at a little advantage where I can pick and choose and only bring my best horses here (from the Bay Area). You still have to have a lot of luck to have a streak like this. We had pointed to this race for six months, so now we have to regroup (for the next race).”
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