ARCADIA, Calif. (Jan. 15, 2022)–In his first stakes assignment and first time around two turns, the Mark Glatt-conditioned Aligato wheeled four deep turning for home and unleashed an impressive turn of foot to take Saturday’s $200,000 Unusual Heat Turf Classic Presented by City National Bank at Santa Anita to win going away by 1 ¾ lengths. Ridden by Flavien Prat, the 5-year-old gelding by Kitten’s Joy got a mile and one eighth on turf in 1:48.29.
Unhurried while fifth, about six lengths off dueling leaders Whooping Jay and Ferrariano in a field of seven leaving the half mile pole, Aligato began to close in three furlongs from home and had the leaders measured mid-way around the far turn.
“We always thought he would improve when we had a chance to go further with him,” said Glatt. “It wasn’t the most ideal circumstances today, but I think that just shows you how good of a horse he is. He’s just a very good horse, particularly for a Cal-bred. He’s a natural two-turn horse, which helps when you’re stretching one out.
“We kind of trained him up to it. We had a different plan getting here to the Unusual Heat Turf Classic, but unfortunately, the rain kind of dismissed that plan, so I called Double L (owners) and told them that we had to kind of train up to it or run him two weeks ago six furlongs. So, I said, ‘Well at least it will be a good workout.’ I’m very happy for the owners, they’ve given me a nice to train and we’ll see that happens next time.”
Owned by Double L Racing and bred in California by Bob Liewald and Joe Mishak, Aligato, who is out of the Rock Hard Ten mare Pretty Hard, closed much ground to be second, beaten a nose in a six furlong turf allowance on Jan. 1 and was off as the second choice at 3-1, returning $8.40, $4.80 and $3.40.
“He broke okay, but I was expecting him to show a bit more speed early on which he didn’t,” said Prat, who was aboard for the first time today. “Later on I was travelling well and when I got him to the outside, he kicked home well. I thought it was an impressive race because it is always hard to go from six furlongs to a mile and one eighth. It was a great race.”
Never worse than third in four prior turf sprints, Aligato improved his overall mark to 5-2-1-2 and with the winner’s share of $110,000, he increased his earnings to $177,440.
Attentive to the early pace while third at the rail heading into the first turn, Golden Gate Fields-based Camino Del Paraiso rallied gamely for second money, finishing a nose in front of Ferrariano. Off at 8-1 with Ricky Gonzalez, Camino Del Paraiso paid $6.80 and $4.40.
Ridden by Abel Cedillo, Ferrariano was also off at 8-1 and paid $5.00 to show while finishing 2 ¼ lengths better than Luvluv.
Whooping Jay, the 2-1 favorite with Joe Bravo, tired through the drive to finish last by 5 ¼ lengths.
Fractions on the race were 23.81, 48.05, 1:12.32 and 1:36.64.
The Turf Classic, carded as race six, was the second of five stakes for California-bred or sired horses on a 10-race Cal Cup day program.
Santa Anita Park Press Release
Photo: Aligato (Benoit Photo)