Comebacking Thirsty John Takes Cal Cup Derby

January 7, 2023

Thirsty John much the best in the Cal Cup Derby (Ernie Belmonte/Past The Wire)

Race Is Part Of Lucrative CTBA-Sponsored Golden State Series

Mike Willman/Santa Anita Press Box

ARCADIA, Calif.— Away since May 14 and in only his second career start, Terry Lovingier’s homebred Thirsty John proved too much for six fellow California-breds on Saturday at Santa Anita, as he went to the front and took the $200,000 California Cup Derby by a half-length under Juan Hernandez.  Trained by Peter Miller, the 3-year-old colt by Stay Thirsty got a mile and one sixteenth in 1:45.51.

The Cal Cup Derby is part of the lucrative CTBA-sponsored Golden State Series for eligible California-bred or sired runners.

“I told Terry Lovingier he’s a good horse, but if he wins this race off of the layoff, he’s a very good horse. I think he showed today that he’s a really good horse. That’s kind of what we thought about him, but I didn’t know if we had him fit enough to do this off of an eight-month layoff and only one start,” Miller said.

“Giver Not a Taker gives it every time, and he gave it again today. I’m proud of him as well, he ran another big race.”

Based at San Luis Rey Downs, Thirsty John, who took his 4 ½ furlong debut here by 3 ¼ lengths when trained by Walther Solis, settled into a nice rhythm up the backside and had a half-length advantage on a determined Giver Not a Taker leaving the quarter pole and kept him at bay the length of the stretch to win impressively.

Ridden back by Hernandez, Thirsty John was the second choice in the wagering at 2-1 and paid $6.60, $3.80 and $2.60.

“On the dirt, that’s a really comfortable pace for the horses, especially for a horse that is returning from a big layoff. I have to give a lot of credit to Peter Miller because he brought this horse ready to win, and my horse showed a lot of heart. He showed that he can run and get the job done,” said Hernandez.

To the winner’s circle for Thirsty John (Ernie Belmonte/Past The Wire)

“This horse won pretty easy the first time, and he was really comfortable today. For the last stretch I just used motion and hand riding. In the end, he got the job done.”

Bred by Lovingier and out of his Discreet Cat mare Discreet Dee, Thirsty John is owned by Lovingier, Tom London and Eugene Zondlo.  With the winner’s share of $110,000, Thirsty John now has earnings of $150,200.

“I was confident that he’s a good horse. With all the rain and stuff, we couldn’t get works over this track with him. But I thought if he’s good enough, he’d be able to get it done and he is a very, very good horse and visually to look at him he’s a pretty horse. Really well put together,” Said Terry Lovinger.

“He hung in there and without working on this track. He worked one time and shipped in and after a seven-and-a-half-month layoff to do this it’s pretty impressive.”

The 8-5 favorite with Flavien Prat up, Giver Not a Taker was getting to the winner on the money but came up short in a gutty effort while returning $2.80 and $2.10.

Golden Gate Fields-based Passarando kept to his task determinedly and finished 2 ¼ lengths in front of Crypto Ride.  Off at 5-2 with Umberto Rispoli, Passarando paid $2.40 to show.

Fractions on the race were 23.45, 47.68, 1:11.90 and 1:38.32.

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