With Gary Stevens at the controls, rapidly improving King of Speed notched his second consecutive stakes win as he rallied boldly through the lane to take Monday's $100,000 Zuma Beach Stakes at Santa Anita by 1 ¼ lengths over favored Much Better. Trained by Jeff Bonde, King of Speed got a mile on turf in 1:34.35.
“He's a big 2-year-old, no question,” Stevens said. “He's grown into a man from a boy in his last two races. When I first started getting on him, I thought he could be my Futurity horse and I still think he'll run well on dirt as well. Now that he's gone two turns a few times and he's gotten the taste of settling and passing horses, he's really moved forward. In his last two races, he's improved so much. I worked him after his last race and I told Jeff, 'He's five lengths better than he was when he won that stake (one mile Del Mar Juvenile Turf on Sept. 2).'”
Next to last in a field of eight juveniles and about 10 lengths off the lead going into the Club House turn, King of Speed began to gather steam heading up the backside, but still only had two horses beat while pulling his way into contention three furlongs from home. Forced to idle around the far turn while at the rail, Stevens managed to split horses approaching the eighth pole, cut to the rail and King of Speed then finished like a horse with a big future.
“He's getting better every time he goes out there,” Bonde added. “Today, Gary sat, waited and this colt did everything right. It couldn't have worked out any better.”
Despite the fact he came off a similar type win in the Del Mar Juvenile Turf at one mile on Sept. 2, King of Speed was over-laid from his morning line of 4-1 and paid $13.40, $4.40 and $3.20 while off at 5-1.
Owned by Del Secco DCS, Inc., King of Speed, a Kentucky-bred colt by Jimmy Creed, out of the A.P. Indy mare Beautiful Daniele, picked up $60,000 for the win, increasing his earnings to $145,980. His overall mark now stands at 6-2-1-1.
Ridden by Drayden Van Dyke, Much Better, who was a 3 ¼ length first-out maiden winner going 6 ½ furlongs on dirt Sept. 1, had no apparent excuses as he was unable to hold off the winner in the final furlong while finishing 2 ¼ lengths in front of longshot Rijeka.
Off at 6-5 in a field of eight, Much Better paid $3.60 and $2.80.
Irish-bred Rijeka, who was ridden by Geovanni Franco, was forwardly placed throughout and appeared third-best on the day. Off at 9-1, he paid $3.80 to show.
Fractions on the race were 22.55, 45.35, 1:09.90 and 1:22.19.
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