SA Handicap (Grade 1)- $600.000 Purse
SA- For Four Year Olds and Upward
One Mile and One Quarter on the Dirt
March 7, 2020
History was made on Saturday in the SA Handicap, as a horse won the race for the second time! That would be Achilles, as he wins the race for the second consecutive year. That is something that horses like Icicle, Dark Crown, and Atomic Twister were never able to accomplish. He was tough to pick in this race because he had not been that consistent since winning this race in 2019, but has shown flashes of his top form, too. He last ran in the Pegasus, and it was a solid performance, and likely better then his race line suggests. I was skeptical because of that inconsistency, but coming back to this familiar race would do him good. The winning trainer is Diablo Diablo, and it is his third win in the stake. Other then Achilles, he also won in 2011, tying him with Jerry Garcia Racing as the winningest trainer in the race. Jockey T C Baze is a first time winner. Congratulations to them! The time of the win was 2:00:33, which was quicker then his winning time last year. Let’s have a look at it!
(½ Mile- :47.39)- The two horses from Nakamura Stables break well out of the gate, with Shanghai being the quicker of the two as they run down the frontstretch for the first time. His stablemate, Eclipse My Knowledge eventually backs off just a bit and settles in to a stalking position. From the outside, Questionable also started sharply, and it would be the Mb Stables entry eventually taking the lead as we began moving around the turn. Eclipse My Knowledge ran to the outside of the Team 7 Illusions trained entry, Range Of The Sun, just off the lead about two and a half lengths from the lead. A gaggle of horses followed them, as they were five wide another length or so back. From inside to outside, this consisted of People Doubted (Aml Racing), Dustu (Team 7 Illusions), Unfold (Fractious), Apples To Oranges (Mb Stables), and Champion In Action (Night Rider Stables). Another three wide group followed closely, this being Charlemagnes Command (Serenity Stables), For The Boys (D J C Racing Stables), and Combat Wombat (Maxmillion Farm). Our eventual winner, Achilles, was near the back for Diablo Diablo, further back then where he was at the start of this race last year, but this is the way he seems to like it. First Class Male (Team 7 Illusions) is the trailer.
(3/4 Mile- 1:11.00)- Down the backstretch, Questionable continued to run well and pulled a full length ahead of the second place Shanghai. Both Range Of The Sun and Eclipse My Knowledge maintained their position as stalkers right behind the pacesetters, but they would have additional company as we went down the backstretch, and that would be from Champion In Action, who used this portion of the race to advance his position while running on the outside. Combat Wombat also started showing his intention of making a move on the outside as we hit the top of the turn. As for Achilles, he pulled up to the outside of For The Boys, but it was crowded in front of him, so if a move was going to be had, he would have to go even further outside, or perhaps follow Combat Wombat through if that one maintained his push. Other runners were either content with holding their positions, or simply had no room to run if they wanted to make a push.
(Top Of Stretch, 1.7F To Go)- Moving around the turn, Questionable still looks pretty good as he continues to show the way. His closest pursuer now is Range Of The Sun as Shanghai begins to back off. Range Of The Sun had run a good race to this point, and was now preparing to make his move on the leader, but there would be new challengers to worry about. Champion In Action continued his strong run while on the outside and was a head behind in third. Behind them, well, welcome to HRP. The cluster of horses is at its best in an image we have all seen before. Many were in for a chance, and that obviously included Achilles. He did not have to make a big outside push, and held his line for the most part to the outside of For The Boys. Apples To Oranges helped this out a little by moving down a lane and allowing this lane to open up more that it seemed as though it would. Who would prevail in this dash, or would Questionable hold them off?
(Finish- 2:00.33)- In the stretch, Questionable was holding them off for a little bit, but on the outside, the best runners were clearly Achilles and Combat Wombat. They were coming the quickest and seemed as though it would be decided between them. However, Combat Wombat was not able to maintain that push as well as it seemed he would, allowing Achilles to put him away easier then it seemed like it would be. Approaching the wire, Achilles was all by himself, and wins the race by a comfortable length! It was tight for second, with Range Of The Sun getting the headbob on Champion In Action. It seemed as though Range Of The Sun was a little too methodical with passing Questionable, that he did not have an answer for the challenge of Achilles, but still ran a great race, and was another horse who needed to have a good run today. Champion In Action did well while running wide throughout. Fourth goes to Combat Wombat, just barely over Questionable. The next five also ran in close proximity, through sixth will look better then tenth when we look at this race in their past performances in the future. That group is People Doubted, Dustu, For The Boys, Charlemagnes Command, and Unfold. Rounding out the order, it’s Eclipse My Knowledge, Shanghai, First Class Male, and Apples To Oranges.
About The Winner- Achilles, trained by Diablo Diablo and ridden to victory by T C Baze, is a five year old gelding by Disregard, and is out of Anya Kuro. He was bred in California as a third quarter two year old by Diablo Diablo, the only trainer for which he has ever known. Congratulations to the connections! The win is his sixth in 20 starts, his fourth stake win, and third graded win. His career earnings are now $1,254.360.
Time: :471 1:11 1:351 2:001
$2 Mutuel Prices:
$1 Exacta: 5 – 3 Paid 234.90
$1 Trifecta: 5 – 3 – 12 Paid 1,519.10
Categories: Grade I, STAKES ARTICLES