It took less than two months for La Canada Stables to nearly double its investment on Pure As Gold.
Claimed for $100,000 on June 14 at Hollywood Park by trainer Jack Carava on behalf of La Canada, Pure As Gold earned $180,000 with a 23-1 upset under jockey Jon Court in the $300,000 Bing Crosby Handicap on Sunday at Del Mar.
In the process, the 4-year-old Stolen Gold gelding, who had been claimed twice before in 2006, became a Grade I winner, knocking off a field that included Bordonaro and Carthage, who between them had won nine races in a row before the Crosby.
Before Pure As Gold’s shocker was official, the Washington-bred had to withstand a claim of foul by jockey Alex Solis, the rider of the 3-5 favorite and runner-up Bordonaro. Solis claimed Court’s whip struck Bordonaro in the face about an eighth of a mile from the finish. However, stewards Grant Baker, Scott Chaney and George Slender let the result stand, saying the video evidence was inconclusive.
A winner of a Grade III race earlier this year on grass at Santa Anita, Pure As Gold earned his fourth win in 13 starts on dirt, running the six furlongs in 1:08.79.
Making his first appearance since he won the Count Fleet Sprint Handicap on April 13 at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Ark., Bordonaro, who was ridden by Solis for the first time, finished half a length behind the winner and a head in front of Battle Won, who had finished second in the 2005 Crosby. Trickey Trevor followed, then came Carthage, whose five-race win streak ended, and Premium Saltine, who tired after setting the pace.
Spun Sugar, the longest shot at 5-1 of the three fillies that trainer Todd Pletcher started in the $250,000 Go For Wand Handicap, edged 11-1 outsider Balletto to win the Grade I at Saratoga.
Ridden by Mike Luzzi, Spun Sugar, a 4-year-old daughter of Awesome Again, won by a nose for her sixth win in 11 starts for owner-breeder Frank Stronach. In winning for the first time in three starts at Saratoga, she ran the 1 1/8 miles in 1:49.93.
“She’s a fighter. It was just like Oaklawn Park all over again,” Luzzi said, referring to Spun Sugar’s win over Happy Ticket in the Apple Blossom Handicap on April 8 in Arkansas.
Pool Land, Pletcher’s other 5-1 shot, finished third and Oonagh Maccool, his other entrant, finished last as the 3-2 favorite.
“We’ll check her over. That was not her,” Pletcher said of Oonagh Maccool, who was ridden by John Velazquez. “She’s a much better filly than that.”
Tac It Like A Man, the 6-5 favorite, and 8-1 shot Checknbac finished in a dead heat for the win in the $418,000 Governor’s Cup Futurity late Saturday night at Los Alamitos.
Both 2-year-olds in the restricted Grade I for California-breds are trained by Jaime Gomez. They ran the 350 yards in a stakes record 17.32 seconds, bettering the 17.35 set by Finding Nemo a year earlier. The win was the second in five starts for Tac It Like A Man, a First Down Dash colt owned by breeder Double Bar S Ranch LLC and the fourth in five tries for Checknbac, a Check Him Out filly owned by Dutch Masters III.
First Samurai, one of the top 2-year-olds in the country in 2005, has been retired. The son of Giant’s Causeway suffered broken ribs in a starting gate mishap in the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland in the spring.
Owned by Bruce Lunsford and Lansdon Robbins III and trained by Frank Brothers, First Samurai finished with five wins in eight starts and earnings of $915,075. He won the Hopeful and Champagne last year and was third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.