Unheralded Idol pulls off the upset in the Big ‘Cap at Santa Anita

Trainer Richard Baltas, stretching Two Thirty Five, got his first Grade 1 stakes victory  Saturday at Santa Anita with Idol.
Trainer Richard Baltas, who is stretching the front leg of horse Two Thirty Five, got his first Grade 1 stakes victory on Saturday at Santa Anita with Idol.
(John Gibbins / San Diego Union-Tribune)

The Santa Anita Handicap thought it had some star power when undefeated Maxfield shipped in for a race that was once worth $1 million but dwindled to $400,000. Yet it was a late charge by a lightly raced 4-year-old that ended Maxfield’s five-race streak.

Idol, who had five starts and never won a stakes race, went from fifth at the top of the stretch to win by a half-length over Express Train. Maxfield finished third. Idol was the fourth betting choice and paid $12.80 to win.

Idol is now the only horse eligible for a $1-million bonus if he also wins the Hollywood Gold Cup at Santa Anita on May 31 and the Pacific Classic at Del Mar on Aug. 21. The bonus was added to attract better horses to the race.

“It’s unbelievable, I’ve been coming here since I was a 13-year-old,” said Richard Baltas, the 59-year-old winning trainer. “Before I even got to be a horse trainer, I saw all the greats run here in the Big ‘Cap but you never think that you’re going to be here but you keep working hard and God blessed you.”


Joel Rosario was the winning jockey.

The other Grade 1 race on the card was the $400,000 Frank E. Kilroe Mile for older horses running on the turf. It was one of the best races of the day with three horses crossing the line in close formation. It was Hit The Road ($10.40 to win) who snuck through on the inside to win by a neck under jockey Florent Geroux, who was at Santa Anita to ride Maxfield.

Trainer Bob Baffert has another Kentucky Derby favorite in Life is Good, who cruised to a victory in the San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita on Saturday.

March 6, 2021

The win was a milestone for trainer Dan Blacker, who won his first Grade 1.

“I gave myself 10 years to win a Grade 1 and I got it done in year nine,” Blacker said. “I don’t want to make this about me. It’s all about the horse, he’s such a professional animal, a true racehorse.”

The Grade 2 $200,000 San Carlos was won easily by a Cal-bred. Brickyard Ride ($12.00) went to the front and stayed there to win the seven-furlong race by four lengths for trainer Craig Lewis and jockey Alexis Centeno.

“He’s blessed with a lot of natural speed obviously and he’s learning how to relax,” Lewis said. “He reached for ground like a horse that could run forever. He’s starting to look like he could be the goods.”

In the $100,000 China Doll Stakes for 3-year-old fillies going a mile on the turf, Going Global ($4.00) had a strong finishing kick to win by three-quarters of a length.