SUNSET HANDICAP | PURSE: $100,000 | GRADE: 3 | 3-YEAR-OLDS AND UP | 1 1/2 MILES
INGLEWOOD, Calif. -- It may not be the worst four-letter word used to describe a racehorse, but trainer A.C. Avila and jockey Chantal Sutherland said the same thing about Imponente Purse in separate conversations after Sunday's $100,000 Sunset Handicap at Hollywood Park.
"He's lazy," Avila said.
"You have to get after him," Sutherland said. "He's lazy. Once he passes a horse he gets confident. If you let him fall asleep, he'll fall asleep."
With that knowledge as background, Sutherland began to vigorously ride Imponente Purse with more than three furlongs remaining in the Grade 3 Sunset Handicap. Nearing the stretch, the 5-year-old Imponente began to respond in earnest, rallying wide to reach the front in the final furlong and win by 1 3/4 lengths.
The second choice in a field of seven, Imponente Purse ($7.80) ran 1 1/2 miles on turf in 2:26.65, outrunning Falcon Rock. Celtic New Year, the 3-2 favorite, led by a length with a furlong remaining but faded from contention in the final furlong and was beaten 3 1/2 lengths.
The Sunset Handicap, the closing-day feature of the Hollywood Park spring-summer meeting, was Imponente Purse's most prestigious stakes win and first in a graded stakes. He was a listed stakes winner in Brazil in 2009 and won an optional claimer here last December, his only other win in 14 starts in this country.
Owned by Luiz Fernando Dannemann, Imponente Purse has won 4 of 19 starts and $218,627.
In April, Imponente Purse was second in the Grade 2 San Juan Capistrano Handicap over about 1 3/4 miles on turf at Santa Anita, and was a troubled sixth in an optional claimer a mile on turf on July 2, his only subsequent start.
With proven form in long races, Sutherland thought Imponente Purse would have an outstanding chance in the Sunset.
"The horse has amazing staying power," she said.