March 18, 2019

Kanthaka rallies to convincing San Vicente tally

Kanthaka winning the 2018 San Vicente (G2) at Santa Anita © BENOIT PHOTO

Kanthaka launched an eye-catching move into sordid early splits and powered his way to a 3 ¼-length win in Saturday’s $200,345 San Vicente (G2) at Santa Anita. Overlooked at 11-1 among six rivals, the Jerry Hollendorfer-trained colt jumped straight from a December 26 maiden triumph to the 7-furlong stakes event for 3-year-olds and Flavien Prat was up for owner West Point Thoroughbreds, who recorded their 100th stakes victory.

From the first crop of Jimmy Creed, Kanthaka dropped well off the pace down the backstretch as 2-5 favorite Ax Man and 18-1 outsider Mr. Jagermeister dueled up front, with the latter credited with wicked opening splits of :22 and :44.25.

Kanthaka came flying up the inside on the far turn and swung wide for the stretch drive, accelerating into a clear lead as he passed the 6-furlong mark in 1:09.89. The chestnut rolled home much the best, stopping the teletimer in 1:22.62.

Nero chased the fast pace in third and held well for second after the front-runners folded, trying hard all the way to the wire as he finished 12 lengths clear of third at 9-1. All Out Blitz got up late for third at 9-1, nearly a length better than Ax Man in fourth. Kris’ Rocket Kat and Mr. Jagermeister followed.

Bred in Kentucky by Spendthrift Farm, Kanthaka was purchased for $140,000 at the Barrett;s 2-year-old sale last spring and is out of the unraced Noonmark mark Sliced Bread, a half-sister to Grade Canadian winner Proud Heiress.

A rallying fifth when making his career debut at Del Mar in mid-November, Kanthaka graduated the second time out on the opening-day program at Santa Anita, closing fast to score by a neck at 7-furlongs. He’s now earned $153,440 from three starts and is eligible to stretch out to two turns for a Kentucky Derby qualifier in his next outing.

San Vicente Quotes

FLAVIEN PRAT, Kanthaka: “He gave me a great run and he did everything right. He broke like a bullet but then we had quite a lot of speed in front of us. So he sat really nicely behind the speed and made a really nice run around the turn and after that it was done.”

DRAYDEN VAN DYKE, fourth-placer Ax Man: “I was completely screwed by the two (Mr. Jaggermeister). He had me down on the rail and he was done at the three eighths pole, but he kept me in tight. My horse got tired, but he never got a breather. I would completely throw this race out.”

JERRY HOLLENDORFER, Kanthaka: “We thought we had a good chance because we thought a lot of speed would be in there, which there was. They went 22 and 44 (and change), so we thought we might have a chance to close them down, especially the way he broke his maiden. He got in trouble, and then still won, so that was pretty impressive.”

Next race?: “We’re going to monitor things and see how it goes.”

JEFF LIFSON, West Point Thoroughbreds, Kanthaka: “This feels great. It never gets old. We were hoping that he can rate and not get too far behind the speed and Flavien just rode him perfectly. He responded well in the stretch and we knew he tries really hard and he lived up to what we thought he would do. So, we’re really happy. We’re hoping that he can stretch out. We’ll find that out but I have a feeling we’ll try two turns and will see how it goes.”