Last with three sixteenths of a mile to run, California-bred Marckie's Water steamed home while wide-out to take Saturday's Grade II, $200,000 Charles Whittingham Stakes at Santa Anita by three quarters of a length under Tiago Pereira. Trained by Richard Baltas, the 5-year-old full horse by Tribal Rule got a mile and one quarter on turf in 2:00.95.
“Wow. They were all lined up there and I was just hoping he was going to explode the last part,” Baltas said. “He kicked on like he was the best horse.”
With the Baltas-trained Morse Code heading to the early lead, Tizzarunner, Ashleyluvssugar and Prime Attraction were all in close attendance around the far turn, but Marckie's Water got the last laugh with an impressive stretch burst.
Most recently a half length classified allowance winner going 1 1/8 miles on turf here April 28, Marckie's Water, who is out of the Stravinsky mare Russian River, was off as the second choice in a field of seven 3-year-olds and up at 2-1 and paid $6.80, $3.80 and $2.60.
Although he was third two starts back in the Grade II, 1 ½ miles turf San Luis Rey Stakes on March 29, the Whittingham is Marckie's Water's first graded stakes win and improves his overall resume to 18-6-0-2. With the winner's share of $120,000, he now has earnings of $466,683.
“The last race he didn't break very well for me,” Pereira said. “This time he broke well and he really relaxed after we passed the finish line the first time. We settled in behind horses and when it was time to go, we went outside and he really responded.”
United, who stumbled shortly after the start while between horses at the dirt crossing, ran a huge race in defeat under Flavien Prat, rallying from mid-pack to finish second, a half length in front of Ashleyluvssugar. Off at 7-2, United paid $4.60 and $3.00.
Ridden by Brice Blanc, 8-year-old gelding Ashleyluvssugar was attentive to the pace throughout and ran a big race to be third by a head over 8-5 favorite Prime Attraction. Dispatched at 8-1, Ashleyluvssugar paid $3.40 to show.
Fraction on the race were 24.67, 48.83, 1:13.36 and 1:37.19.
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