After considering scratching Opera Score from Wednesday's $82,800 Miramontes Handicap, trainer Bobby Frankel decided to run him, and it was a profitable move.
Making his first start since Aug. 15 in France, Opera Score rallied along the inside to beat Cocooning by a head in 1:48 for the 1 1/8 miles on turf.
It was the third victory in seven starts for Opera Score, a 4-year-old Nureyev colt owned by Juddmonte Farms. Ridden by Corey Nakatani, he paid $10.60 as the third choice. Talloires, the 6-5 favorite, was fifth in the field of eight, and his jockey, Kent Desormeaux, offered no excuses.
"I had one length to make up turning for home and he wasn't able to get it done today," he said. "I had a perfect trip."
Frankel, who has had Opera Score since November, thought about running the colt in an allowance race before opting for the restricted Miramontes.
"I didn't know he was as good as he was until I looked at the form on him," he said.
"He's a very nice looking colt and he ran very well today."
The second-longest shot in the field at 22-1, Cocooning, who was claimed by trainer Sam Aldabbagh for $10,000 last July, set the pace and proved very tough to pass.
"He's always done well, but today it was against better horses," jockey Felipe Martinez said. "This is a class horse, and he showed just what kind of heart he has against these horses."
Nominees for the National Thoroughbred Racing Hall of Fame were announced this week, and the Hall's 100-member committee will elect the jockey, trainer and horses to be inducted this year. The induction will be Aug. 7 at the National Museum of Racing in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.
The five jockeys nominated were Jerry Bailey, Earlie Fires, Don Brumfield, Craig Perret and Don Pierce. The trainers are Frankel, Phil Johnson, the late Bob Wheeler, Buddy Raines and Willard Proctor.
Exceller, who was a stakes winner on turf and dirt, heads the modern male horse nominations. The others are Foolish Pleasure, Manila, Needles and Pleasant Colony.
The modern female nominees include Bold 'N Determined, Glorious Song, La Prevoyante, Life's Magic and Mom's Command, and the old-timer nominees are Ballot, Borrow, Crusader, Granville and Mad Hatter.
Nakatani and Kent Desormeaux, who are competing to be the leading jockey at Santa Anita, will be at Turfway Park Saturday for the $500,000 Jim Beam Stakes.
Nakatani, who leads Desormeaux, 85-84, going into today's program, will ride Serena's Song in the Beam, which will be simulcast at Santa Anita. Desormeaux will ride Sikkim, who was second to Car Dealer, another Beam entrant, in the $100,000 Battaglia Memorial.
A winner of four in a row, including a sweep of Santa Anita's series for 3-year-old fillies, Serena's Song arrived at Louisville on Wednesday morning and will be stabled at Churchill Downs. She will ship to Turfway on Saturday morning.
Jumron, who was scheduled to make his next start in the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland, will instead run in the Santa Anita Derby on April 8.
The addition of Jumron, the El Camino Real and Golden State derbies winner, means the purse for the Santa Anita Derby will be increased to $700,000. The track offered to boost the purse if the race attracted four graded stakes winners of races of one mile or longer.
At the moment, the Derby has four probable starters who meet that criterion--Afternoon Deelites, Timber Country, Larry The Legend and Jumron.
"It was my decision," said Gary Lewis, who trains Jumron for owner Charles Dunn. "The timing is good, but the main thing is the track surface. He had trouble with the dry and loose track (last Saturday in the Golden State Derby at Bay Meadows) and Keeneland's track is even cuppier.
"He hasn't raced here, but this horse just loves (the track). It's a sandy track, but a very, very good racetrack. The risk factor of him running down, or not handling it, is very low. It'll be an interesting race here. I think he fits in well with these horses."
Funeral services for Christopher Culver, 18, the nephew of Nakatani, will be held Friday at 10 a.m. at Rose Hills Memorial Park in Whittier. Culver died earlier this week after a lengthy battle with leukemia. . . . Jockey Obed Sanchez escaped with bruises on his head and ankle in a spill in Wednesday's seventh race. Riding Assassini, Sanchez went down heavily when his gelding clipped the heels of a tiring Fly With Ty and fell. Fly With Ty, who was ridden by Corey Black, was disqualified from sixth and placed seventh. . . . Trainer Neil Drysdale said French Deputy is still bothered by a bruised right foot and his status is day to day. . . . Paying Dues, who was impressive in his maiden victory March 19, is scheduled to work a mile on Sunday, then be shipped to New York on April 12 for a start in the $500,000 Wood Memorial three days later.