Hard knocking Unbridled's Note finished resolutely to win Saturday's Grade III, $100,000 Daytona Stakes under Corey Nakatani, overhauling El Commodore and Gary Stevens late to win by a half length while covering 6 1/2 furlongs down Santa Anita's Camino Real Turf Course in 1:11.89.
Third, beaten a half length down the hill three starts back in the Grade III Eddie D. Stakes Sept. 27; fourth, beaten just 1 3/4 lengths in the Grade I Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint down the hill Nov. 2 and second, beaten a half length in his most recent start, the six furlong Hollywood Turf Express Dec. 8, Unbridled's Note had been knocking at the proverbial door and on Saturday he charged through– winning for the third time in six tries down Santa Anita's unique hillside layout.
The 3-2 favorite in a field of seven, the Steve Asmussen trainee paid $5.00, $3.20 and $2.40.
“Today, we got the trip we wanted to get and it all worked out,” said Nakatani. “As honest as he is and as hard-trying a colt as he is, I just have to thank the connections for keeping me on him. He's a gem to ride and he's only getting better with age. He's back, he's at his home track now and it was a great win.”
Owned by Mike McCarty, Unbridled's Note, a 4-year-old colt by Unbridled's Song, picked up $60,000 for the win and increased his earnings to $636,683. His overall record now stands at 16-5-3-4.
“He loves this course and he got a lot better trip than he got at Hollywood,” said Asmussen assistant, Scott Blasi. “We were happy with where we were at. Corey gave him a great ride.
“We'll have him here for the winter and hopefully we'll have a series of races to run him in. He likes the course here, so this is the right place to have him.”
For his part, veteran El Commodore gave a good account of himself in his first career try down the hill. After breaking sharply, he sat a comfortable second down the hill behind longshot Truest Legend and Brice Blanc. Crossing the dirt at the top of the stretch, Truest Legend ducked out sharply, leaving the rail open for Stevens who seized the advantage but couldn't hold off the winner late.
Trained by Mike Machowsky and off at 5-1, El Commodore paid $6.80 and $3.00.
“He ran great,” said Machowsky. “Great ride by Gary, no complaints. He'll be back in one of these races. This distance seems to suit him and he was well clear of the rest of the field, so I think we'll try it again.”
Gallant Son, who shipped south after winning the $50,000 Oakland Stakes at Golden Gate Fields, stumbled at the break under Isaias Enriquez and rallied from off the pace to be third, 4 1/4 lengths behind El Commodore, at odds of 6-1. He paid $3.40 to show.
Chips All In, the second choice at 7-2, ran evenly, finishing fourth with Aaron Gryder aboard.
Fractions on the race were 21.80, 43.36 and 1:05.84.
Santa Anita will offer a nine-race program on Sunday, with the Grade III, $100,000 Robert J. Frankel Stakes serving as the day's headliner. First post time is at 12:30 p.m.
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