Om ends drought with front-running effort in Thunder Road

ARCADIA, Calif. -- An old race strategy employed by a new jockey gave Om his first stakes win since late 2015 in Saturday's Grade 3 Thunder Road Stakes at Santa Anita.

Om led throughout the Thunder Road Stakes for turf milers, a tactic similar to his wins in three Grade 2 races in 2015 - the Del Mar Derby, Twilight Derby and Mathis Brothers Mile. Saturday's win pushed Om's career earnings past the seven-figure mark.

Flavien Prat rode Om for the first time in the $100,345 Thunder Road Stakes. Om took the lead shortly after the start, and was in front by as many as seven lengths on the backstretch. Om ($11.40) was challenged in the stretch by 2-1 Bowies Hero and prevailed by a half-length in 1:33.54.

"Before the half-mile pole, he gave me a nice breather," Prat said. "I looked back. I knew I was rolling. That's the way he wants to run."

Bowies Hero finished a head in front of 5-1 Next Shares, who was followed by Tequila Joe, Blackjackcat, and Ohio.

Blackjackcat, who was third in the Breeders' Cup Mile at Del Mar on Nov. 4, was second on the turn, but faded to finish five lengths behind Om as the even-money favorite. Trainer Mark Glatt said jockey Kent Desormeaux was unsure why Blackjackcat ran such a quiet race in his first start since the BC Mile.

"He said he felt a little flat," Glatt said. "I don't have any good answers right now."

Om won for the first time since the Mathis Brothers Mile on Dec. 26, 2015. Prat worked Om in the buildup to the Thunder Road and had raced against the 6-year-old horse numerous times.

"I kind of know the horse," he said.

Om set solid fractions of 22.58 seconds for the opening quarter-mile and 45.75 for a half-mile. Prat said he wanted Om in front of Blackjackcat.

"I didn't want to sit behind him," Prat said.

Om, who races for K.B. Sareen and trainer Dan Hendricks, has won 6 of 23 starts and earned $1,001,645. Om had his best season as a 3-year-old in 2015, winning four races, including three stakes for 3-year-olds. In 2016 and 2017, Om was winless in 11 starts, including a nose loss in the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint here in November, 2016.

In his only previous start this year, Om was fourth in the Joe Hernandez Stakes on the hillside turf course on Jan. 1. Saturday's win is expected to lead to a start in the track's top turf mile of the winter-spring meeting -- the Grade 1 Kilroe Mile, which is worth $400,000.