Space Commander Blasts Off to Californian Stakes Win

Californian Stakes (Grade 2)- $200.000 Purse
SA- For Three Year Olds and Upward
One Mile and One Eighth on the Dirt
April 18, 2020

In the 16th running of the Californian Stakes, it always seemed like Space Commander was the best horse in the field if he ran his best race, but there would be a couple rivals in the race that would be able to bring him down if not. Space Commander, who was our pick to win, was made an overwhelming favorite, at odds of 2/5, so the expectations would be high. I was surprised by the lack of support for Burning Approval, who was picked to finish second, but we would get the second and third place finishers right as well, just in the reverse order. The proud winning trainer of Space Commander is Nakamura Stables, and he wins the race for the second time. You have to go all the way back to 2009, when he won the race with Classic Admiral at HOL. The jockey, Ru Fuentes, because a first time winner of the stake. Congratulations to them! The race was won in a time of 1:47.76, and that is the fastest of any of the races that have been held at SA. The great Dark Crown is the holder of the overall stake record. Before getting into the race, note that Komet was scratched, so we were left a field of six. Here’s a look at it!

(½ Mile- :47.67)- Breaking the quickest out of the gate would be Eastern Equine’s Starship Leader, and he would hold a slight advantage moving into the first turn. He would eventually be joined by The Spaniard, out of Big Jd Racing, and they would match strides going into the backstretch. The eventual winner, Nakamura Stables’ Space Commander, also started well and looked like he might challenge for the lead early for a little while before he was held back a bit into a stalking position. It was another length to Halon, out of Twobyfour, who held his ground on the rail. Two more lengths back is where you would find the Mb Stables’ trained Burning Approval, and three more to Maniaco del Controll, out of Threshold.

(3/4 Mile- 1:11.14)- During the backstretch, The Spaniard put some separation between he and Starship Leader, making his lead about a full length. It looked like Starship Leader was in trouble, so space control, but not Maniaco del Controll, was called, and it was going to soon be time for the Starship Leader to relinquish his spot at the front to the Space Commander, and I can give that my burning approval. Space Commander was now in the third lane, and a little less then two lengths from the leading horse, The Spaniard. Halon and Burning Approval each held their ground but did not progress closer, and Maniaco del Controll remained further back.

(Top of Stretch, 1.5F To Go)- At the front, The Spaniard continued to have a cozy lead at the front end, and emerged with a length advantage over the two spaceship commanders. He still seemed to be in great stride, so would present a strong challenge in the stretch. Starship Leader was not quite ready to hand over the controls to Space Commander, and held strong in the turn, but at the top of the stretch, Space Commander drew even and was now getting ready to go on by. Halon and Burning Approval were still the same distance behind as they had been nearly the whole race, but it was time to show more if they were saving it. Maniaco del Controll was still six lengths back.

(Finish- 1:47.76)- In the stretch, both The Spaniard and Space Commander would separate themselves from the rest of the field, and the race would come down between them. With every stride, Space Commander was just a little bit quicker then The Spaniard would be, and this would allow to him complete the pass just in time to win the race by a quarter length. A good run from Spaniard sees him net second place. Burning Approval gets third, but never was a threat to the top two at any point, and the story is similar for the fourth place Halon. Maniaco del Controll started moving very late in this race, but it didn’t amount to much. Starship Leader fell all the way to the back.

About The Winner- Space Commander, trained by Nakamura Stables and ridden to victory by Ru Fuentes, is a four year old gelding by Strategic Command, and is out of Queen Of Queens. He was bred in Ontario by John Henry as a first quarter two year old, and acquired by Nakamura in private sales last August for $110.000. Congratulations to the connections! The win is his fifth in 17 starts, his third stake win, and second graded win. His career earnings are now $421.200.

##   Horse Name Owner Name Jockey Odds   Fin Time SRF 
  Space Commander Nakamura Stables Fuentes Ru 0.40   11/4 1:47.76  
  The Spaniard Big Jd Racing Smith M E 6.15   21 1:47.85  
  Burning Approval Mb Stables Van Dyke D 10.05   31 1:48.24  
  Halon Twobyfour Arroyo N Jr 83.30   41/4 1:48.44  
  Maniaco del Controll Threshold Pereira T J 6.45   51/2 1:48.52  
  Starship Leader Eastern Equine Velez J I 10.20   6 1:48.63  

Track: Fast

Time: :473  1:11   1:351  1:473

$2 Mutuel Prices:

4 – Space Commander 2.80 2.20 2.10
2 – The Spaniard   2.90 2.20
7 – Burning Approval     2.40

$1 Exacta: 4 – 2 Paid 7.30

$1 Trifecta: 4 – 2 – 7 Paid 32.60

Scratched: Komet

Winner Picked by NS

— NS

Categories: Grade II, STAKES ARTICLES

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