ARCADIA, Calif. (Feb. 25, 2017)–With California-bred or sired horses engaged, Saturday’s $100,000 Sensational Star Stakes came down to an inch–with 2014 winner Ambitious Brew just getting up to win by a nose under Mike Smith over Richard’s Boy and Victor Espinoza. A Pamela Ziebarth homebred 7-year-old gelding by Tizbud, he’s trained by Marty Jones and got the 6 ½ furlongs down Santa Anita’s hillside turf course in 1:12.05.
Ridden by Mike Smith, Ambitious Brew, idle since well beaten down the hill in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint on Nov. 5, sat a close second to Richard’s boy the entire trip and gradually wore him down right on the money.
“The field was short but tough,” said Smith. “I really wasn’t looking around too much, it was just about getting comfortable. Marty had him ready to go today. I thought I had it at the wire. Victor’s horse is game though. When I stayed close, his horse really responded…I didn’t want to stay too close and have Richard’s Boy fight harder and hold us off…I was hoping it would work…For a minute, I didn’t think I was going to get by him.”
Off at 3-1 in a race that offered win wagering only, Ambitious Brew paid $8.20.
“This is amazing,” said Ziebarth. “We’ve had a really slow year so far, but this is a good way to get things going. He just tries every time he goes out there. You can always depend on him to give his all. This whole family tries, everything out of this mare (Kathwen, by Forest Wildcat) tries.”
A winner of the Grade III Eddie D. Stakes over the course two starts back on Sept. 30, Ambitious Brew now has six wins from 11 tries over the unique layout. With the winner’s share of $60,000, he now has earnings of $559,225, while his overall mark now stands at 22-8-7-0.
“When they were going head and head like they were, I was thinking, ‘I hope he’s fit enough,’” said Jones. “Mike knows where that wire’s at. A three-horse race is a real tactical race for the jockeys and Mike’s the best, but the horse is a special horse. From day one he acted like a special horse and he’s been a lot of fun the last four years…He’s getting a little older so maybe we’ll give him a little more time between races and pick our spots.”
Richard’s Boy, who was also off at 3-1, finished 1 ½ lengths in front of Bettys Bambino, who was heavily favored at 2-5 and trailed throughout.
Fractions on the race were 22.45, 44.52 and 1:06.17.