Sharon Alesia, Ciaglia Racing, Marc Ferrell, and Slam Dunk Racing's Second Summer was the surprise 9-1 winner of Sunday evening's Grade 2 Californian Stakes. A 4-year-old gelding by Summer Bird trained by Peter Eurton and ridden by Mario Gutierrez, Second Summer crossed the wire about a length in front of the battle-tested Hard Aces to capture his first graded stakes race. On Santa Anita's fast main track, the final time for nine furlongs was 1:48.29.
“He has an affinity to quicken and his stamina is just amazing,” said Eurton. “He was having trouble with the grass, getting ahold of it and I've just got to give kudos to Larry Zap. Great pick Larry! When I saw him at the three-eighths pole he just looked like he was loaded. It looked like he was going to get boxed in for a second (by Lieutenant Colonel and Point Piper) and when Mario made the move to go in-between the two of 'em…that was just such a great, money move.”
Off as the 4-5 favorite, Lieutenant Colonel flew off the blocks to command the pace from the start. He was joined on the front end by El Huerfano, before separating out to a one-length lead after the first quarter-mile in :23.09. Second Summer was several lengths back in third, and the late-closing Hard Aces trailed the field nearly seven lengths off the leader. El Huerfano began to press the pace again nearing the half-mile mark, urging Lieutenant Colonel to a fraction of :46.52. As El Huerfano dropped back rounding the turn, Second Summer began to range into contention along the outside, while Hard Aces began his closing move along the inside rail.
At the head of the lane, Gutierrez urged his mount to change leads, and Second Summer was able to move past Lieutenant Colonel in the first few jumps. Hard Aces swung to the outside and was closing rapidly down the center of the stretch, but came up about a length short of the wire while Second Summer captured his first graded stake. Lieutenant Colonel was just nosed out for second but Hard Aces, and Point Piper finished fourth.
“Every single race he has improved a lot and he showed it today,” reflected Gutierrez. “Today, he had a good race, he pulled it through and was very game every time I asked him. I'm very happy with him.”
Bred in Florida by Richard Schultz, Second Summer was a $72,000 yearling purchase at the Keeneland September sale. From 13 career starts, the gelding has now won four races, with two seconds and a third. He boasts career earnings of over $270,000 after Sunday's victory.
“I can't say enough good things about this horse, he just keeps getting better,” continued Eurton. “I think we're going to have some fun in about four or five weeks. We're so excited about (possible run in the Gold Cup on June 25, Grade I $500,000 1 ¼ miles). It could be a fun summer. The timing allows us a chance to let him come down for a second, but not much.”
New to the Paulick Report? Click here to sign up for our daily email newsletter to keep up on this and other stories happening in the Thoroughbred industry.
Copyright © 2020 Paulick Report.