Hopkins gained the advantage a furlong out in a dominant performance under Juan Hernandez (Ernie Belmonte/Past The Wire)
Mike Willman/Santa Anita Press Box
ARCADIA, Calif.— In his second graded stakes assignment, Bob Baffert’s Hopkins made it look easy on Sunday at Santa Anita, as he sat close to a fast pace and proved much the best in the Grade III, $200,000 Palos Verdes Stakes, winning by 2 ¼ lengths under Juan Hernandez while getting six panels in 1:08.80.
As expected, Straight No Chaser blasted off from his rail post and showed the way early under Edwin Maldonado, but Hopkins was in close attendance to his outside. Straightening for home, Hopkins got on terms and gained the advantage a furlong out in a dominant performance that gave meet leaders Baffert and Hernandez their ninth and 10th added money victories respectively.
“The race set up really good for us,” said Hernandez, who has been aboard for all seven of Hopkins career starts. “Straight No Chaser, he’s a really good horse, he’s really fast…I really like (Hopkins) a lot…He’s getting better.
“I just played the break, and I just watched the other horses. I saw the one (Straight No Chaser) broke really fast, he broke way better than me, and I broke better than the outside horses. So, I just let him go and sat behind him and waited for the quarter pole to ask my horse to go…When I asked him…he picked it up really well and he got the job done.”
Second, beaten a head in a six-furlong second condition allowance here on Jan. 15, Hopkins was off at 2-1 is a field of six older horses and paid $6.20, $3.20 and $2.40.
A 5-year-old full horse by Quality Road out of the Salt Lake mare Hot Spell, Hopkins is owned by SF Racing, LLC, Starlight Racing, Madaket Stables, LLC, et al. With the winner’s share of $120,000, he increased his earnings to $244,700 from an overall mark of 7-3-3-0.
Idle since finishing second in an ungraded seven-furlong stakes at Laurel Park, Radical Right, in steady training at San Luis Rey Downs for trainer Peter Miller, made his Southern California debut today and was second best, finishing 1 ½ lengths in front of Straight No Chaser.
Ridden by Flavien Prat, Radical Right was off at 6-1 and paid $5.20 and $3.00. The actual 2-1 favorite, Straight No Chaser, with Edwin Maldonado up, paid $2.60 to show.
Fractions on the Palos Verdes were 21.80, 44.10 and 56.40.
Racing resumes at Santa Anita on Friday, with first post time for a nine-race card at 12:30 p.m.