Spirit of Makena powers to victory under Joe Bravo (Ernie Belmonte/Past The Wire)
Santa Anita Press Box
ARCADIA, Calif.— In a performance that validated the betting, trainer George Papaprodromou’s Spirit of Makena took charge turning for home and powered to an impressive 3 ¼ length win in Saturday’s Grade II, $200,000 Triple Bend Stakes at Santa Anita—his second stakes win in a row and third overall dating back to a six furlong allowance score here on Feb. 11. Ridden for the third time in a row by veteran Joe Bravo, the 5-year-old full horse by Ghostzapper got seven furlongs in 1:23.07.
As expected, Forbidden Kingdom, ridden by Juan Hernandez, went to the lead and Spirit of Makena was an attentive second up the backside. With Forbidden Kingdom in front by two lengths at the three furlong pole, Spirit of Makena began to eat into that margin, got on terms a quarter mile out and took command turning for home in a huge effort.
“He’s a nice horse,” said Papaprodromou. “He won the last time doing the same thing… I’m grateful to train a horse like that I would like to thank the owners for giving me (this) horse. We are looking forward to a nice future with him. Hopefully the next stop will be the Bing Crosby (Grade I, six furlongs on July 29 at Del Mar) and hopefully the Breeders’ Cup (Sprint, Nov. 4 at Santa Anita).”
Owned and bred in Kentucky by Bruce Chandler, Spirit of Makena, a winner of the Grade III San Carlos Stakes going the same distance on March 11, was off as the 4-5 favorite in a field of seven older horses and paid $3.80, $2.60 and $2.20.
Out of the Gilded Time mare Win for M’lou, Spirit of Makena is now a two-time graded stakes winner and is 5-4-1-0. With the winner’s share of $120,000, he increased his earnings to $347,600.
Peter Miller’s venerable 9-year-old gelding C Z Rocket was just up for second by a nose over Desmond Doss and paid $4.00 and $3.20 while off at 5-1 with Ramon Vazquez.
Desmond Doss, one of two Cal-breds in the field, was the longest shot in the field at 27-1 with Umberto Rispoli and paid $5.80 to show while finishing 1 ¼ lengths in front of Forbidden Kingdom who came up empty through the drive.
Fractions on the race were 22.86, 45.22 and 1:09.92.
Although he didn’t post a win in either the Grade III Daytona or the Triple Bend, Tiago Pereira was Saturday’s riding star, as he bagged four winners, giving him 13 overall at the current Hollywood Meet and putting him in a three-way tie for second, seven wins behind Juan Hernandez.
First post time for a 10-race card on Sunday, Gold Rush Day at Santa Anita, is at 1 p.m. with admission gates opening at 11 a.m.