As expected, speedster and 24-1 longshot Toccet was sent to the lead by jockey Emile Ramsammy, and while dueling with the 44-1 longest shot Royal Place, rattled off quick early fractions of 23.04, 46.30, and 1:10.34 before weakening on the second turn and dropping back to an eventual fifth place finish. Even-money favorite Southern Image did not disappoint his backers. Stalking the quick pace to the inside back in fourth early on, he took over on the far turn, got 1 1/2 lengths clear, and held on gamely in the stretch to win by 1 1/4 lengths over the late running filly and 7-1 shot Island Fashion. It was another 2 1/4 lengths back to 14-1 longshot Saint Buddy. 9-2 second choice Olmodavor finished fourth. The running time was 2:01.64 over the fast track. Southern Image is the only horse to win two $1 million races at the same Santa Anita meet as he also won the Sunshine Millions Classic on Jan. 24. Results Chart
Winning trainer Mike Machowsky said, "He had it all the hard way today. Victor (jockey Espinoza) had to get out of there and he got tested today. I know the time wasn't the best time in the word but he never had a breather. I don't know what we'll do from here. I'm just going to relax tonight."
Marcelo Polanco, trainer of second place finisher Island Fashion, said, "She ran great. I'm very proud of her. Outside of not winning, the race went pretty much the way I thought, as far as strategy. I'm not afraid of anybody. I'm very happy. During the week they (media) questioned me for running against the males but I have so much faith in her, they didn't believe me."
The first stakes on Big Cap day, was the Grade 2 San Rafael for the 3-year-old Triple Crown hopefuls. Imperialism was a narrow winner over favorite Lion Heart in this race. Full coverage and lots of pictures are available here along with the Louisiana Derby. Results Chart
Also on the undercard of the "Big Cap" was the Grade 2 Frank E. Kilroe Mile Handicap, a one mile turf event for older horses with a $350,000 purse. A full field of fourteen faced the starter, with Buckland Manor sent off as the lukewarm 3-1 favorite.
The longest shot on the board, Roch N Rosh at 87-1, set the early pace of 22.84, 45.55, and 1:09.84 over the firm turf course, with favored Buckland Manor staying close behind. Turning for the stretch drive, Rock N Rush weakened badly as the rest of the field passed him. 9-1 shot Designed For Luck came four wide into the stretch from sixth place, gained position down the lane, and got the lead a furlong out. 10-1 shot Sweet Return, chasing the pace in seventh early, took a five wide path around the turn, rallied well down the center of the course and prevailed by 1/2 a length over another closer, Singletary. It was two lengths back to 6-1 shot Inesperado. Favored Buckland Manor was well placed early but lacked a rally and finished sixth. The time for the mile event was 1:33.87. Results Chart
Winning jockey Gary Stevens aboard Sweet Return said, "I didn't know if it would be possible from the fourteen hole, but we got a nice spot going into the first turn and I was able to save some ground. He relaxed some for me and then came home like a powerhouse. It was unbelievable, just a great trip. "
Winning trainer Ron McAnally said, "Gary's (Stevens) the greatest. We discussed strategy in the paddock and we were both on the same channel. He figured the race out the way I did, which was just the way it worked out."
Capping off the big weekend of stakes action at Santa Anita was the Grade 2 San Carlos Handicap, a seven furlong sprint for older horses with a $150,000 purse on Sunday. Ten went to post with Bluesthestandard sent off as the 8-5 favorite. The second longest shot on the board, Pico Central at 43-1, went right for the lead dueling with Casas Caballo and Captain Squire through an initial quarter in 22.24 and a half in 44.06. Turning for home, jockey David Flores asked him for run and got it. Pico Central pulled away from his pursuers, stretching his lead to 2 1/2 lengths with a furlong to go, easily holding off the late charge of 5-1 third choice Publication by two lengths. It was another two lengths back to 15-1 shot Pohave. Favorite Bluesthestandard chased the pace in sixth early on, but had nothing left for a late run and finished seventh. The final time was 1:21.16 over a fast track, and the winning payoff of $88.40 is the second highest in stakes history.
Winning trainer Paulo Lobo said, "He's a very good horse. He won two Group 1's in Brazil. We told David [Flores] to try to relax in second or third, but he came first. He's a very talented horse. He arrived here (in the U.S.) last August."