Sunshine in the forecast for Rosario
On a rainy Sunshine Millions day at Santa Anita, jockey Joel Rosario’s smile and riding talent broke through the gloom and mist, with the 24-year-old Dominican Republic native picking up four victories, including 10-1 longshot Beltene in the $250,000 Oaks for 3-year-old fillies.
“This has been an unbelievable day,” Rosario said.
Saturday’s Sunshine Millions event matched California-breds against Florida-breds in eight races featuring $3.6 million in purses at Santa Anita and Gulfstream Park.
One of the most impressive performances was turned in by Georgie Boy in the $300,000 Sprint. Georgie Boy, a 4-year-old son of Tribal Rule trained by Kathy Walsh, rallied under jockey Garrett Gomez to win by 2 1/4 lengths over Machismo in 1:08.12 for six furlongs.
“He’s a long striding horse, and I really wanted to go around with him, but he wasn’t traveling exactly the way I wanted,” Gomez said. “So I said, ‘I gotta go inside.’ And it was perfect.”
Georgie Boy won the Grade I Del Mar Futurity as a 2-year-old and took the Grade II San Felipe Stakes as a 3-year-old. He was third in the Grade I Malibu Stakes last month and might become a top sprinter.
Soldier’s Dancer, a 5-year-old Florida-bred, rallied from last in a field of 13 to win the $500,000 Turf by a half length over another Florida import, Presious Passion. Sent off as the 7-5 favorite under jockey Rafael Bejarano, Soldier’s Dancer ran the 1 1/8 miles on a yielding turf in 1:49.64.
“I really wasn’t worried because he was so far back early,” Bejarano said. “It’s the style of the horse. He likes to come from behind like this.”
Leah’s Secret, the 6-5 favorite, overpowered 12 challengers in the $500,000 Distaff, winning the 1 1/16 -mile race by 2 1/4 lengths over Lady Railrider under jockey Eibar Coa. Trained by Todd Pletcher, the 6-year-old Florida-bred won her third consecutive race.
Beltene, trained by Jack Carava, is a daughter of the prolific California sire Unusual Heat. She won her debut in a $40,000 maiden claiming race Dec. 11 at Hollywood Park and won again in an allowance race Jan. 10 at Santa Anita. She remained unbeaten by winning the Oaks by a head over Hooh Why in 1:09.16 for six furlongs.
“This was a big step for her, but I thought she was capable, and she improved enough to have a chance,” Carava said. “She’ll probably run long, and so far she’s done everything right.”
The same can be said for Rosario, who’s challenging Bejarano and Gomez for the Santa Anita riding lead in his second full season in Southern California. He has 25 wins, tying him with Gomez and one behind Bejarano.
“I just think he’s a very good rider with tons of talent,” Carava said. “Now he has confidence. He’s very good on synthetic surfaces. He gives horses a chance to settle and make a run.”
During Santa Anita’s 11-race card that drew a crowd of 22,155, Rosario also had winners aboard Buck’s Bro in the first, No Guessing in the third and Wall Street Wonder in the fifth.
In the richest race of the day, the $1-million Classic held at Gulfstream Park, It’s A Bird won by 5 1/4 lengths over Dry Martini in 1:49.35 for 1 1/8 miles under jockey Julien Leparoux.
Northern California-based trainer Greg Gilchrist came away with two victories in Florida, with High Resolve winning the $300,000 Filly & Mare Sprint and Wild Promise taking the $500,000 Filly & Mare Turf.
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