April 12, 2024

Senor Buscador rallies from last in San Diego upset

Senor Buscador wins the San Diego H. as Defunded (no. 6, red silks) checks in fourth (Photo by Benoit Photo)

Defunded was odds-on to extend his winning streak to three in the $302,000 San Diego H. (G2), but got no nearer than fourth as the 13-1 Senor Buscador sprang the upset at Del Mar. Thus the local prep for the $1 million Pacific Classic (G1) didn’t provide much clarity going into the track’s signature race on Sept. 2.

A confirmed closer who relishes proper pace, Senor Buscador appreciated the presence of speedball Brickyard Ride to set the table. Brickyard Ride was stretching out to 1 1/16 miles for the first time, and the sprinter hadn’t gone two turns since wiring the Cal-restricted Tiznow S. in early 2022. His only play was to try to run them off their feet and hold on.

The gambit went according to plan early, as Brickyard Ride established a daylight lead through fractions of :23.03, :46.30, and 1:10.36. But he began to run out of steam down the lane.

Slow Down Andy, the 3.90-1 second choice, was in the right spot to pounce first. The mercurial colt then flashed his tail and lapsed into his old disorganized habits. Defunded was gradually improving, but under pressure, and making hard work of it.

The one rallying with boldness of purpose was Senor Buscador under Geovanni Franco. Unhurried in a detached last for the opening half-mile, the Todd Fincher charge uncorked a circling move on the far turn, rapidly reached contention, and blew past Slow Down Andy to win going away by 1 1/4 lengths.

Slow Down Andy was 1 3/4 lengths clear of Brickyard Ride, who salvaged third by a half-length from the one-paced Defunded. Next came Tripoli, defending champion Royal Ship, Missed the Cut, American Admiral, and the tailed-off Tisquantum. Piroli was scratched.

The final sectionals indicate how much the leaders’ pace was decelerating. A fourth quarter in :25.95 meant that the mile split elapsed in 1:35.95. Senor Buscador clocked 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.54.

The Peacock Family Holdings’ homebred had been out of luck at Del Mar last summer. After a non-threatening eighth in the San Diego, Senor Buscador was a better third on the cutback in the Pat O’Brien (G2). He took a step forward to win the Ack Ack (G3) around the one-turn mile at Churchill Downs, but regressed to eighth in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1).

Senor Buscador returned triumphant in the March 5 Curribot H. at Sunland and finished a solid fourth in the April 22 Oaklawn H. (G2). Yet he failed to build upon that when fifth behind Defunded in the May 23 Hollywood Gold Cup (G1) in his latest. The San Diego illustrated that he can still get the job done in the right circumstances.

“I told him (Franco) to just let the horse do his thing,” Fincher said. “Don’t panic and start riding early. He’s got one strong kick. He’ll start picking them up at the half mile pole on his own. Wait as long as you can, then push the button. He’ll never do anything but fall back out of the gate, so we needed a good set-up.”

The Kentucky-bred son of Mineshaft first attracted attention as a juvenile with a last-to-first display in the 2020 Remington Springboard Mile. He was then a belated fifth in the 2021 Risen Star (G2) behind Mandaloun and Proxy, but his nascent Kentucky Derby (G1) hopes ended due to injury. Senor Buscador remains a lightly-raced five-year-old with a mark of 12-6-0-1, $667,427.

Out of the multiple New Mexico stakes-winning Rose’s Desert, by Desert God, Senor Buscador is a half-brother to three stakes scorers – 2018 Sunland Derby (G3) victor Runaway Ghost, Sheriff Brown, and Our Iris Rose.