ARCADIA, Calif.—Idle since winning a restricted stakes at Del Mar July 10, Hit the Road hit the comeback trail running Saturday at Santa Anita, as he strode home to a brilliant 3 ¾ length win in the Grade III, $100,000 Thunder Road Stakes, providing trainer Dan Blacker with his first-ever graded stakes win. Ridden to his third consecutive win by Umberto Rispoli, Hit the Road got one mile on turf in a scintillating 1:33.35, eclipsing Om’s 2018 Thunder Road record time of 1:33.54.
A comfortable third, about three lengths off the lead heading into the Club House turn, Hit the Road was in-hand behind dueling leaders Sombeyay and Bob and Jackie three furlongs out and narrowed the gap to one length at the top of the lane. Taking his cue from Rispoli, Hit the Road, who was three-deep turning for home, engaged the leaders and in an instant, opened up by three lengths a sixteenth from home en route to a huge win.
“He’s just a really special horse and I am so lucky to have him,” said Blacker, 38. “…Like I said before the race, he was born a great horse. I’m just lucky to have him in my barn. (Umberto worked the horse in 59 (seconds) a week ago and he called me after the work and said, ‘He just worked okay.’ I was kind of worried he didn’t think he looked too good. Then after (today’s) race he told me, ‘I didn’t want you to get too excited.’
“For me, the horse is a champion in my eyes and I’m just so thankful to the group of owners.”
The third choice in a field of six older horses at 3-1, Hit the Road paid $8.20, $4.40 and $3.40.
Owned D K Racing, LLC, Radley Equine, Inc., Taste of Victory Stables, Rick Gold and Dave Odmark, Hit the Road, a 4-year-old by More Than Ready, out of the U S Ranger mare Highway Mary, notched his first graded stakes win and his third overall added money victory. A perfect two for two last year, he’s now five for eight lifetime and with the winner’s share of $60,000, increased his earnings to $254,751.
“He’s a nice horse,” said Rispoli. “We always believed in him and had faith in him…I was on top of the race and by the five furlong marker he was already pulling hard and I could understand he was fresh. He was so good today. At the top of the stretch, he had good acceleration and covered good ground. It was a good comeback, so now it’s up to Dan (as to) what he is going to do.”
Bob and Jackie, who was in the fight from the gate, proved second best under Heriberto Figueroa and paid $4.00 and $2.60 as the 2-1 favorite.
Border Town, who was ridden by Flavien Prat, was just up to nip Sombeyay by a nose for third money and paid $4.00 to show.
Fractions on the race were 23.60, 46.80, 1:10.18 and 1:21.87
Santa AnitaPress Release
Hit The Road: Benoit Photos