ARCADIA, Calif. – With most of the attention focused on last year’s winner, trainer Carla Gaines’ “Avis choice,” consistent Tiger Dad, set the tone early as he battled head and head for the lead with a well-meant Principe Carlo, eventually gaining the ascendency in deep stretch as he drew off to win Saturday’s $100,000 Thor’s Echo Stakes by three quarters of length. Ridden by regular pilot Victor Espinoza, Tiger Dad, a 4-year-old California-bred gelding by Smiling Tiger, got six furlongs in 1:09.56 while never threatened by his well fancied stablemate Desert Law, who checked in third as the even money favorite.
“I have been riding him quite a few times (his last eight races), so I really have the confidence in him. When some other horse is outside, it is exactly what he wants because he won’t let them go by. I didn’t want to take the lead too soon because he has a bad habit of waiting for horses, so today I was just hoping the outside horse (Principe Carlo) would keep going and keep me company all the way to the wire and it worked out perfectly.”
Most recently second to highly regarded Collusion Illusion in a six furlong allowance here on May 17, Tiger Dad was the third choice at 5-2 in a field of five California-bred or sired three year olds and up and paid $7.60, $3.80 and $2.20.
“He ran fantastic,” said Gaines. “He really dug in and Victor knows him so well. As I said pre-race, my other horse (Desert Law) needs a race off of a layoff. He got a little far back.”
Owned by his breeders, Mark Devereaux and Scott Gross, Tiger Dad, who had been out of the money in just two of his previous 14 starts, notched his first stakes victory and improved his overall mark to 15-4-5-3. Out of the Unusual Heat mare Q T Shae, Tiger Dad bagged $60,000 for the win, increasing his earnings to $276,661.
Breaking from the far outside with Agapito Delgadillo up for trainer Ryan Hanson, Principe Carlo, who was claimed two starts back for $20,000, battled gamely throughout and finished 1 ¼ in front of Desert Law. A winner of his last two starts, Principe Carlo was the narrow second choice at 5-2 and paid $3.60 and $2.20.
Ridden by Flavien Prat, Desert Law, who had been idle since running second in the Grade I Bing Crosby Stakes at Del Mar on July 27, paid $2.10 to show.
Fractions on the race were 22.33, 45.06 and 57.09.
Sponsored by the CTBA, the Thor’s Echo, for 3-year-olds and up, is part of the lucrative Golden State Series for California-bred or sired horses.
Santa Anita Press Release
Photo: Tiger Dad. Credit: Benoit Photos