Itsinthepost and jockey Tyler Baze, right, outleg Hayabusa One (Victor Espinoza), left, to win the Grade II, $200,000 San Luis Rey Stakes, Saturday, March 24, 2018 at Santa Anita Park, Arcadia CA.© BENOIT PHOTO
Red Baron’s Barn’s Itsinthepost captured last year’s Grade 2 San Luis Rey Stakes, and went off at even money on Saturday to try for a repeat in the 2018 edition. The 6-year-old son of American Post took command in the stretch and was able to hold off the late run of Hayabusa One to score by three-quarters of a length on the wire, giving jockey Tyler Baze a graded stakes double on the card. Trained by Jeff Mullins, Itsinthepost covered 1 1/2 miles in 2:27.73 over Santa Anita’s firm turf course.
“The only instructions Jeff gave me today were to try and see if we could stalk (the pace) on the outside and it worked out great,” said Baze. “When Nakatani (Corey, aboard Aquaphobia) kind of went on with it, I was able to slide right out turning down the backside and it worked out great…I think he’s my all-time best horse now for money-won…He has the will to win.”
Itsinthepost broke well near the inside of the nine-horse field, taking up a good stalking position against the rail as the field rounded the far turn for the first time. On the lead, there was a three-way battle between Play Hard to Get, Saltini and Aquaphobia, trading off for the first half-mile with fractions of :24.32 and :49.35.
Aquaphobia took a clear lead in the clubhouse turn, completing six furlongs in 1:14.40, while Baze allowed Itsinthepost to come off the rail a bit around the bend. Entering the backstretch, Itsinthepost stayed in the three-path to move into third position as Baze kept a firm hold of the reins. The pair remained three-wide through the far turn, but easily assumed commanded at the head of the lane.
Itsinthepost began to separate himself from the rest of the field, but faced a late challenge from Hayabusa One in the final sixteenth of a mile. Though he drifted to the inside a bit, Itsinthepost dug in when he needed to and was able to cross the wire three-quarters of a length in front of Hayabusa One. It was about six lengths back to the rest of the field.
“I’ve had some good turf horses, but some of them, they’ll kinda tail off at some point,” said Mullins. “Not this horse, he’s just solid every time. With this horse, the further, the better.”
Bred in France by Julien Leaunes, Itsinthepost was a $6,656 yearling at Osarus. He began his career in France, then came to the United States and kept to allowance company through 2016. Itsinthepost stepped up to graded stakes last year, and has now won six Grade 2 events. Overall, his record stands at 9-7-5 from 33 starts, for earnings of just shy of $1.1 million.
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