Photo by Benoit
Santa Anita Press Release
ARCADIA, Calif.—Reunited with Juan Hernandez, Air Force Red sped to the early lead in Saturday’s $80,000 Lure Stakes at Santa Anita and the 4-year-old ridgling by Air Force Blue made it look easy as he dominated throughout en route to a 1 ¾ win. Trained by Leonard Powell, Air Force Red got one mile on turf in 1:33.78.
“You could see that he was really happy to be there. His ears were pointing forward and he relaxed very nicely for Juan on the lead. When they came at him, he had another gear and he finished fast.
“He’s only won four races this year, so the confidence is there. Today we were fighting tougher competition and he responded well so hopefully we march forward,” commented Powell
Most recently an even fifth, beaten 2 ¾ lengths going about 6 ½ furlongs down the hillside turf course in the Grade II Eddie D Stakes Oct. 1, Air Force Red was off as the 2-1 second choice in a field of six 3-year-olds and up and paid $6.40, $4.00 and $2.40.
Owned by Eclipse Thoroghbred Partners and Holly Golightly, Air Force Red, who is out of the Mizzen Mast mare Mesana, notched his first stakes win in what was his ninth career start. With the winner’s share of $52,320, he increased his earnings to $204,140 while getting his fourth win from nine overall starts.
“This is what makes racing so addicting, the thrill of victory is indescribable, and we have been in this business a long time, you just can’t get enough. You just want it again and again.
“It’s hard to say anything against Juan (Hernandez), he’s smart, he knows the horses and he has a good fill. When we saw Juan was on him, we thought this was set up to be perfect,” said Holly Golightly.
“The race set up for us really well because there was not much speed, but my horse has speed. He loves to run on the front, I just let him go and he was really comfortable all the way. He put his ears up, and he was just waiting for competition. Around the quarter pole he switched leads and then he performed again,” remarked Hernandez.
Next to last at the half mile, Irish-bred Prince Abama put in an impressive stretch run to finish second by two lengths over favored Gregorian Chant. Ridden by Hector Berrios, Prince Abama was off at 5-2 and paid $4.00 and $2.20.
With Umberto Rispoli up, Gregorian Chant was third by a neck over Carmelita’s Man and paid $2.20 while off at 2-1.
Fractions on the race were 23.06, 47.40, 1:11.18 and 1:22.57.