Bruce Chandler’s homebred Spirit of Makena remained perfect around one turn with a fluent victory in Saturday’s $201,000 Triple Bend (G2) at Santa Anita. Now 4-for-4 sprinting, and a head away from being unbeaten overall, the George Papaprodromou trainee will set his sights on bigger divisional prizes leading up to the Breeders’ Cup.
Triple Bend (G2)
Spirit of Makena’s stalk-and-pounce trip here, as the 9-10 favorite, was nearly identical to his successful stakes debut in the March 11 San Carlos (G3). In both seven-furlong tests, the Ghostzapper gelding traveled well in second for Joe Bravo, easily dispatched front-running Forbidden Kingdom in upper stretch, and drew away.
The pace had been faster in the San Carlos, with splits of :22.60 and :44.96 before Spirit of Makena took charge and clocked 1:08.56 by the eighth-pole. In the Triple Bend, Forbidden Kingdom posted fractions of :22.86 and :45.22. Spirit of Makena put him away and opened up by 2 1/2 lengths in midstretch, reaching six furlongs in 1:09.92. The final time of 1:23.07 was a second slower on Saturday, compared to 1:22.06 in the San Carlos.
The other differences in the Triple Bend were Spirit of Makena’s larger margin, and Forbidden Kingdom’s retreat to fourth. Spirit of Makena crossed the wire 3 1/4 lengths clear of C Z Rocket and Desmond Doss, who rallied in tandem.
Nine-year-old gladiator C Z Rocket managed to snare second by a whisker from Desmond Doss. Forbidden Kingdom checked in another 1 1/4 lengths back, followed by Positivity, Midnight Mammoth, and Howbeit.
As a mainstay in the division, C Z Rocket gives Spirit Makena key collateral form. He’s twice finished second in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1), including to Elite Power at Keeneland last November. In his last pair, C Z Rocket was eighth, but beaten 3 1/2 lengths, in the Dubai Golden Shaheen (G1) on World Cup night, and runner-up to multiple Grade 1 star Dr. Schivel in their May 13 comeback at Santa Anita.
Spirit of Makena arrived on the scene during Dr. Schivel’s long absence, and the two could eventually clash in the July 29 Bing Crosby (G1) at Del Mar. Unveiled at Del Mar last summer as a four-year-old, Spirit of Makena was overlooked at 41-1, but powered home a daylight winner. He stretched out to a mile for an entry-level allowance Sept. 11 and just found himself outdueled.
Sidelined for exactly five months until Feb. 11, Spirit of Makena cleared that allowance condition in a six-furlong event at Santa Anita. He proved himself at the graded level in the San Carlos, and looked even more decisive in the Triple Bend.
The Kentucky-bred, who has now bankrolled $347,600 from his 5-4-1-0 line, is the first black-type performer under his first three dams. Out of the Gilded Time mare Win for M’Lou, he descends from a rather obscure family. His fourth dam, Grade 2-placed Clever Guest by Wise Exchange, produced Spigot, the 1988 Coronation Futurity winner.
Also at Santa Anita on Saturday, turf speedsters got their turn in the $101,000 Daytona (G3), where Fast Buck lived up to his name by blasting on the lead. Jockey Hector Berrios let the 2.10-1 chance roll as fast as he wanted, building up a gigantic lead on the downhill course, and just held for his first stakes win.
Co-owned by Zephyr Racing, Peter Cruz, and trainer Cesar DeAlba, Fast Buck shot five lengths clear through an opening quarter in :21.05, and padded that to six lengths at the half in :42.64. The pack began to close in swinging into the stretch, including 6-5 favorite Whatmakessammyrun, who almost caught him. But Fast Buck did enough to keep his neck in front while completing about 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:11.68.
Whatmakessammyrun was himself just a head up on third-placer Lovesick Blues. Next came Burnin Turf, Indian Peak, Restrained Vengeance, and the ex-French Prince Lancelot who appeared run off his feet in this U.S. debut.
Fast Buck’s scorecard stands at 9-5-0-1, $275,474. Bred by Daehling Ranch in California, the five-year-old gelding was fourth to The Chosen Vron in the state-restricted Sensational Star S. March 11 in his only prior stakes attempt. But he had since wired a second-level allowance versus open company.
By Gallant Son and out of the Falstaff mare Zorra Roja, Fast Buck is a full brother to stakes-placed Hijo Galante and a half-brother to multiple stakes scorer Fast and Foxy.