Under a perfectly timed ride from Rafael Bejarano, longshot Majestic Eagle rallied from fifth a quarter mile from home and kept to his task in game fashion to get up and win Sunday's Grade III, $100,000 American Stakes at Santa Anita by a neck. Trained by Neil Drysdale, the 4-year-old colt by Medaglia d'Oro got one mile on turf in 1:34.57.
An attentive fifth, in field of six 3-year-olds and up, Majestic Eagle appeared full of run leaving the three furlong pole as Bejarano continued to save as much ground as possible while in the two-path around the far turn. At the top of the lane, he turned him loose and in a thrilling stretch run, he was able to outrun a pair of Mark Glatt trainees, Law Abidin Citizen and favored Sharp Samurai.
Most recently fifth in the Grade I Triple Bend Stakes at seven furlongs on dirt May 25, Majestic Eagle was off at 9-1 and paid $20.00, $7.40 and $3.40.
Out of the Tapit mare Double Tapped, Majestic Eagle, who is owned by John Lindley and Ray Morton, picked up his first stakes win while notching his third victory from 17 overall starts. With the winner's share of $60,000, he increased his earnings to $240,410.
Law Abidin Citizen, who was ridden by Tiago Pereira, finished a nose in front of Sharp Samurai and paid $6.20 and $2.80 while off at 6-1.
Sharp Samurai, off at 1-2, didn't have any apparent excuses while running third, 2 ¼ lengths in front of Tartini. Ridden by Victor Espinoza, Sharp Samurai paid $2.10 to show.
Fractions on the race were 23.65, 47.09, 1:10.40 and 1:22.41.
AMERICAN STAKES (GIII) $100,000 QUOTES
RAFAEL BEJARANO, MAJESTIC EAGLE, WINNER: “I feel so happy. This is my last mount of the meet and we had a dream trip. My horse broke good and I knew Sharp Samurai was the horse to beat. I tried to put just a little pressure on him early and then I took hold of my horse. I followed Sharp Samurai around the (far) turn and when we got clear, he was really running. Mr. Drysdale told me this horse doesn't like the stick, so I hand rode him and he really responded.”
NEIL DRYSDALE, MAJESTIC EAGLE, WINNER: “Being back on the grass helped him, I would say. He got the trip, but there wasn't as much pace as I thought there would be. We were thinking about gelding him tomorrow but maybe we will change our minds. I told Rafael, he likes to be on the outside and he's got a short run.”
TIAGO PEREIRA, LAW ABIDIN CITIZEN, SECOND: “We had a good trip. He relaxed really well and we were able to get a good position. He responded really well when I asked him, but the winner was too much.”
VICTOR ESPINOZA, SHARP SAMURAI, THIRD: “I had an excellent trip. He broke nice, was sitting behind horses, but he got a little bit anxious down the backside, not much, then settled down nice. Turning for home I said, 'OK, it's time to go,' but he just moved a little bit and did not accelerate like I wanted the last 16th. Other than that he ran a great race.”
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