Saves Ground, Surges in Stretch
By Dick Downey
Kanthaka, cut back in distance to one turn, returned to form on Saturday winning the seven-furlong Lazarp Barrera Stakes.
After breaking from post 1 under Flavien Prat, Kanthaka stayed on the rail never more than two lengths behind a pressured pace of 23.05 and 45.53 set by McKale. Leaving the turn, McKale was joined to his outside by Kanthaka, Beautiful Shot and Zulfikhar, and the race was on.
Kanthaka was best down the stretch and hit the finish line first for a three-quarter length win timed in 1:23.35. Beautiful Shot and Zulfikhar edged McKale for the place and show spots. King Cause and Bocephus rounded out the order of finish. Calexman was scratched.
Jerry Hollendorfer trains the West Point Thoroughbreds-owned Kanthaka, who won for the first time since taking the seven-furlong San Vicente Stakes back in February. That win inspired connections to put Kanthaka on the Kentucky Derby trail, resulting in a third-place finish in the 1 1/16-mile San Felipe Stakes and a sixth in the 1 1/8-mile Toyota Blue Grass Stakes.
After falling short of making the Run for the Roses, Kanthaka was shipped back to California and readied for the Barrera. Sent off as the 6-5 favorite, he returned backers $4.40 to win, $3.00 to place and $2.20 to show.
Kanthaka, a son of Jimmy Creed out of Sliced Bread, by Noonmark, ran his record to three wins from six starts with earnings of $323,633.
The winner was bred in Kentucky by Spendthrift Farm LLC. Exposed to auction at the 2016 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky July 2016 yearling sale, he did not meet his reserve at $38,000. He was purchased by West Point at the Barretts Equine Limited March 2017 sale for 2-year-olds in training for $140,000.
Winning trainer Jerry Hollendorfer: “I thought Flavien put the horse right up in there where he had a chance to get trapped and not get out, but he was counting on getting a seam and he did get the seam and went through it right away. I think he has the potential to run longer distances, but there are seven furlong races that fit him really good.”
Winning jockey Flavien Prat: “I waited to make my move when I wanted and it opened up perfectly. After that, he did a brilliant job. Once he got the lead, he kind of looked around. e made that nice move and for about half a length, he looked around, but that was it.”
Kent Desormeaux, aboard Beautiful Shot: “He finished full of run. Just an incredible effort, he came back on the last 100 (yards).”