June 21, 2020

ARCADIA, Calif. (June 20, 2020)–Although it appeared Bob Baffert’s Ragtime Blues may’ve had matters in-hand at the top of the stretch, the Mark Glatt-conditioned Collusion Illusion had only begun to fight, as he kicked into high gear and motored to an impressive 3 ¼ length tally in Saturday’s Grade III, $100,000 Lazaro Barrera Stakes at Santa Anita.  Ridden by Flavien Prat, the bay colt by Twirling Candy got 6 ½ furlongs in 1:16.03 and has his connections thinking about the first Saturday in September.

Breaking alertly from the rail in a field of five, Collusion Illusion was unhurried early as Phantom Boss and Ragtime Blues disputed the early running heading to the far turn.  With Mike Smith encouraging Ragtime Blues, he assumed command a half mile out and appeared to get the jump on Collusion Illusion as he opened up a three length advantage a quarter mile from home.

“He had me a little worried there at the top of the stretch, but I think he’s a pretty smart horse and Flavien has a lot of confidence in him,” said Glatt.  He’s very athletic, there’s no wasted action in his stride.”

Is the Kentucky Derby on Sept. 5 a possibility?

“It’s on our radar,” said Glatt, who’s horse appeared to gallop out in front around the Club House turn by half a football field.  “We paid the late supplement ($3,000).  I don’t know what’s next.  I just wanted to get by today.  We’ll need to stretch him out and figure out how to get enough points.”

A stirring three length allowance winner going six furlongs off a 7 ½ month layoff on May 17, Collusion Illusion was off at 2-5 and paid $2.80, $2.10 and $2.10.

Owned by Dan Agnew, Rodney Orr, Jerry Schneider and John Xitco, Collusion Illusion, who is out of the First Dude mare Natalie Grace, picked up his second graded stakes win and now has four wins from five career starts.  With the winner’s share of $60,000, he increased his earnings to $248,751.

“Mike Smith opened up a little at the turn, so I wasn’t super confident, but I knew as soon as we turned for home, if we switched leads, he would give me a good kick,” said Prat, who is not three for three aboard “Collusion.”

Ragtime Blues, who had won two of his three starts and was trying stakes competition for the first time, offered little resistance late while finishing 3 ¼ lengths in front of longshot Howbeit.  Off at 2-1, Ragtime Blues returned $2.20 and $2.10.

Off at 43-1 with Umberto Rispoli, Howbeit paid $3.60 to show.

Fractions on the race were 21.90, 44.73 and 1:09.66.

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