Late-running Kanthaka kicks clear in San Vicente

ARCADIA, Calif. -- There were three stakes on Saturday at Santa Anita. Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer won the first with Unique Bella, Flavien Prat rode the second with Om, and then Hollendorfer and Prat decided to join forces for the third, and they teamed up to take the Grade 2, $200,345 San Vicente Stakes for 3-year-olds with 11-1 shot Kanthaka.

Kanthaka ($24.20) benefited from a torrid early pace that sapped odds-on favorite Ax Man and set it up for a horse with Kanthaka's late-running style. Kanthaka was fifth of six early, closed sharply as the leaders began to wilt, then kicked clear for a 3 1 /4-length victory over Nero, who was the only other horse without the staggers at the end of seven furlongs.

It was another 12 lengths back to All Out Blitz in third, then came an exhausted Ax Man, Kris' Rocket Kat, and Mr. Jagermeister, who dueled with Ax Man early but melted from the heat.

Mr. Jagermeister and Ax Man went 22 seconds flat for the opening quarter and 44.25 seconds for a half-mile, this over a track that was a bit dull early and at a distance where the run-up is minimal. Kanthaka was timed in 1:22.62 on the fast main track.

"We thought we had a good chance. It looked like there was a lot of speed," Hollendorfer said, "so we thought we had a chance to run them down, especially the way he broke his maiden."

Kanthaka won a seven-furlong race on opening-day Dec. 26. Hollendorfer was desirous of running him in a first-level allowance going two turns, but when that race did not fill, the San Vicente became the best remaining option. He'll run in a two-turn stakes race next time, Hollendorfer said.

Drayden Van Dyke, who rode Ax Man, said his colt "never got a breather" after breaking from the rail.

Kanthaka, a son of Jimmy Creed, has now won twice in three starts. He earned $120,000 on Saturday to bring his career total to $153,440. He was purchased as a 2-year-old in training in March 2017 at Barretts by the West Point Thoroughbreds partnership, which sent him to Hollendorfer.