Controlling speed is always dangerous. Underestimated controlling speed even moreso. Grinning Tiger showed the field and the betting public that he was not to be overlooked with a frontrunning victory in the $101,500 Crystal Water Stakes going one mile over the firm turf course at Santa Anita.
The reigning Oregon-bred Horse of the Year had only sprint races under his belt this season and he certainly enjoyed the stretch out today. He opened up with a 23.46 quarter and a one length lead. He maintained that advantage through the half in 47.73 and six furlongs in 1:12.11. The closers began to rev-up, but the son of Smiling Tiger wasn’t done. Jockey Heriberto Figueroa asked him for more and he finished with two sub-twelve furlongs to finish the mile in 1:35.75 and score by a length and three-quarters. He was let off by the betting public at 92-1.
“I really did think we could get it done,” said an elated winning trainer Anthony Saavedra. “He shuts off (relaxes) so easy, he’s not a runoff. He will just bow that head and do whatever we want him to do. We were dying to try two turns…We were going to scratch him at the last minute, but we all came together and said he needs to run.”
Grinning Tiger races for Tyree J. Wolesensky and he was bred by Patrick Cosgrove. The 5-year-old gelding is out of the winning Pioneering mare, Karlee’s Kitten. His career record stands at 27-8-4-1 and he has earned $207,801.
Smiling Tiger had two of his other state-bred champions earn additional black-type today. Last season’s California-bred Champion 2-year-old El Tigre Terrible was second by a half-length in the $75,000 Desert Code Stakes at Santa Anita Park. Baja Sur, the 2019 Washington-bred Horse of the Year was second by three-quarters of a length in the $61,250 Albany Stakes at Golden Gate Fields.