On Cal Cup Day at Santa Anita, jockey Tyler Baze earned his biggest win yet in his racing comeback, guiding Lucky Primo to a half-length victory over Got Even in the $175,000 Cal Cup Classic at 1 1/16 miles.
Baze, 29, hadn't ridden since August of 2011 because of substance abuse problems. He had his first mount on Oct. 5, and he said he "couldn't be better" as he seeks to regain his place in the jockey colony. Trainer Joshua Litt said past success with Baze persuaded him to give him a shot.
"Lucky Primo, I love that name," Baze said. "At this stage in my career I'm definitely appreciating things more, especially the shots everybody's giving me right now. I've got a whole lot of live horses that people have been putting me on, and it's just a blessing."
There were six stakes races on a 10-race Saturday card featuring California-bred horses. The emphasis, as far as purses are concerned, has switched to 2-year-olds in an attempt to boost California's faltering breeding industry.
In the $250,000 Juvenile, Monument and Ballard Ruler gave trainer John Sadler a one-two finish. Monument, ridden by Martin Garcia, won by 2 3/4 lengths and produced a brief scare when he ducked in toward the rail in deep stretch before Garcia got him back on a straight path to victory in the 1 1/16-mile race.
"He was really green when he got into the front," Sadler said.
In the $250,000 Juvenile Fillies, Tilde won a stretch duel over Doinghardtimesagain for jockey Rafael Bejarano, prevailing by a half-length.
Jockey Joel Rosario, who took his business to the East Coast after winning 10 Southern California riding titles, returned to guide Tiz Flirtatious to a 1 3/4 -length victory over Best Present Ever in the first division of the $100,000 Distaff at 6 1/2 furlongs. The time was a quick 1:11.70.
"We might kidnap him and not let him go back," trainer Marty Jones said of Rosario.
In the second division of the Distaff, 3-year-old Bella Viaggia, at 9-1 odds under jockey Joe Talamo, was the upset winner over Missdealornodeal.
In the $100,000 Sprint, Maui Mark, claimed for $20,000 last March and ridden by Garrett Gomez, won by a half-length over Ain't No Other in the six-furlong race.