Tyler Baze, with one of his textbook front-running rides, guided Breakpoint to victory by a head in the $125,000 Grade III San Juan Capistrano Stakes on Sunday as Santa Anita concluded its winter-spring meet.
The 5-year-old Chilean-bred son of Constitution, making his first start in eight months while debuting in the Neil Drysdale barn, scooted right to the lead in the 1 3/4-mile turf marathon, opened a two-length advantage through the first half mile in 47.97 and then held off a fast-closing Red King, the 2-1 favorite.Red King, trying to give trainer Philip D’Amato his fourth consecutive victory in the San Juan, lacked racing room through most of the stretch under Abel Cedillo and was unable to get to the winner once a hole opened late.
Breakpoint, a 9-1 longshot, was 0 for 4 in the US since debuting here in June 2021 at Belmont Park. He’d never shown the type of early speed he displayed Sunday in his past four outings. He ran the distance in 2:47.32, giving Drysdale his fourth victory in the San Juan.
“He’ll go two miles, he’ll go all day long,” said Baze, who won the race for the second time. “He’s just a big plodder and we learned a lot from him today. You just really don’t want to take hold of him. He wants to be free-running, and he ran great.
“Once we hit the half-mile pole, I asked him to pick it up around the turn and he picked it up a little bit, but he just kept plodding along. He galloped out way in front of everybody and galloped out strong, so the further we can run the better.”
Breakpoint had tried three graded stakes in New York and Kentucky last year under Steve Asmussen, but he was beaten double digits in each race. Drysdale, a Hall of Famer, obviously discovered the winning touch with the horse.
“I’m delighted for the horse,” he said. “He had a masterful ride and it’s just good to see him get his form back from South America. What is in store is we’ll give him some carrots tonight and a good dinner and we will see where we go.”
Even though D’Amato came up short with Red King, the 46-year-old trainer won eight races over the weekend to finish the meet with 63 victories, breaking Doug O’Neill’s single-meet record of 56 set in 2006-07.
“I really have not pointed for something like that, and it just is a tribute to the great team that I have behind me, from really nice horses and owners that let me run the horses when I think they’re ready to run and the team at my side that helps get that job done,” he said.
The Santa Anita training title was D’Amato’s second consecutive and third overall.
Breakpoint raised his career earnings to $286,163 with the winner’s share of $75,000 while winning for the sixth time in 10 starts. He was a three-time Grade I winner in Chile in 2020.
Avenue finished third, a half length behind Red King. It was a neck back to fourth-place finisher Dean Martini.
D’Amato fittingly won the final race of the 78-day meet, saddling Hong Kong Harry, the 2-1 favorite, for a victory in the $100,000 Grade III race at a mile on the grass. Making his graded-stakes debut, the 5-year-old gelded son of Es Que Love remained unbeaten in three starts in the US while running the distance in 1:33.87.
Homer Screen, a 28-1 longshot, finished second and 22-1 outsider Tarantino was third in the 10-horse field.
Possibly Perfect Stakes
Juan Hernandez, the meet’s leading rider with 104 victories, guided 1-2 favorite Neige Blanche to a gate-to-wire win in the $100,000 turf race for fillies and mares. The 5-year-old daughter of Anodin prevailed by one length over Scarabea. It was another head back to Freedom Lass in third.