Sweet Swap and Joe Talamo are good for each other. Ridden for the second time in-a-row in Sunday’s Grade III, $100,000 San Simeon Stakes by Talamo, the 5 year-old horse by Candy Ride followed his Feb. 23 Joe Hernandez Stakes win down the hillside turf course with a diminishing half length tally on Sunday over the late-charging Lakerville as he negotiated the 6 ½ furlongs down the hill in 1:11.59.
Off as the narrow 9-5 favorite, the John Sadler trainee broke from post five in a field of 10, went up inside to duel for the lead with 18-1 longshot Handsome Mike and Mario Gutierrez, established himself as the pacesetter after a quarter mile and carved out fractions of 21.74, 43.61, 1:05.52.
‘Swap’ surged forward after crossing the dirt portion of the main track to kick clear in the stretch and win, despite an emphatic late bid from Lakerville, who was also 9-5, by half a length.
“What impressed me today was that he was pressured the whole way,” said Talamo. “He never got a breather at any point so for him to kick away like that was pretty impressive.
“We figured Lakerville would be coming at us so our plan was to steal away a little bit once we hit the dirt. Fortunately for us, it worked out.”
Owned by Hronis Racing, LLC, Sweet Swap paid $5.60, $3.00 and $2.60. The San Simeon was his sixth win from 12 starts and with the winner’s share of $60,000, he increased his overall earnings to $287,133.
“It didn’t look like there was a lot of speed in the race today, so we let him run a little more free,” said Sadler. “I think he’s better coming from off the pace, but that’s the way the course is playing, so we let him run on.”
Lakerville, a six year-old horse by Unusual Heat who is trained by Barry Abrams, was making his fourth start since taking more than a year off. Third last out of the gate in a field of nine older horses and last at the quarter pole with Corey Nakatani on board, he chased outside, was three deep turning for home and although it looked hopeless for him an eighth of a mile out, he finished like a rocket to to just miss.
“He put in a big run but what more can you say, speed is winning.” Said Nakatani. “He came running at them but they just don’t get as tired on the lead when the track is playing fast. He ran his race, the winner just ran a little better.”
Lakerville paid $2.80 and $2.40.
Breaking from post position nine, longshot Handsome Mike, trained by Doug O’Neill, stalked the pace early and pressed winner Sweet Swap the whole way to his outside, made another bid leaving the hill as they crossed the dirt, but could not match the top two finishers and held on for third.
Handsome Mike paid $5.20 to show.
Live racing will resume at Santa Anita on Saturday, April 19, with first post time at 12:30 p.m. Admission gates open at 10:30 a.m.
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