CALIFORNIAN S. | PURSE: $150,000 | 3-YEAR-OLDS AND UP | GRADE 2 | 1 1/8-MILES
After finishing second to Game on Dude in three consecutive stakes, Clubhouse Ride relished the opportunity to avoid that top-class rival in Saturday's Grade 2, $150,500 Californian at Hollywood Park, drawing off to a 2 1/4-length win on the Cushion Track. Garrett Gomez guided the Craig Lewis-trained horse to his first graded stakes win.
Clubhouse Ride rated off the pace as Blueskiesnraibows and Batti Man dueled through opening fractions in :24 2/5 and :48. He launched his bid three wide on the far turn, advancing to be only a head back in third after six furlongs in 1:12 2/5, and entered the stretch drive on a clear lead, passing the mile mark in 1:37 4/5 with a 1 1/2-length cushion.
Even-money favorite Liaison tried valiantly to close the gap in midstretch, but Clubhouse Ride continued to assert his superiority all the wire to the wire.
"He's been running against a real quality horse, so it's nice to get a win with him," Gomez said. "This might even help his confidence level a bit and make him a better horse."
Campaigned by Six-S Racing Stable and Nikolas Petralia, Clubhouse Ride toured the 1 1/8-mile distance in 1:51.
The son of Candy Ride left the starting gate as the 3-1 second choice among seven rivals and paid $8.40, $3.40 and $2.80. Liaison, who entered with a two-race win skein, held second by a 2 1/4-length margin over 19-1 Oilisblackgold in third. Kettle Corn, Batti Man, Holladay Road and Blueskiesnrainbows completed the order of finish.
Bred in Kentucky by Sidney and Jenny Craig, Clubhouse Ride was purchased for $22,000 at the 2010 Barretts January two-year-old sale. He is the first stakes winner out of the Seeking the Gold mare Seeking Results, who is a half-sister to millionaire River Keen, winner of the Jockey Club Gold Cup and Woodward Stakes in 1999.
Clubhouse Ride notched his only previous stakes victory in the 2010 Barretts Juvenile at Fairplex and also placed in the CashCall Futurity and Delta Jackpot that season. He made only one start at three, finishing second in the Sham Stakes in January, and came back from a 13-month layoff last year.
The chestnut was off the board in his first three attempts and didn't place in a stakes race until a third in the Governor's Cup at Fairplex last September. Two starts later, he snapped a 13-race losing skein in a turf optional claiming sprint at Santa Anita and Clubhouse Ride went on to finish second in the off-the-turf Daytona in final start of the year.
He opened 2013 with a close second in a turf optional claiming event at Santa Anita and switched back to dirt for the February 3 Santa Antonio, recording a non-threatening second to Game on Dude. Clubhouse Ride filled the same position in the March 2 Santa Anita Handicap, finishing nearly eight lengths back, but he entered the Californian off a very encouraging runner-up effort in the $1.5 million Charles Town Classic, rallying boldly to miss by a diminishing half-length margin.
With Saturday's $90,000 payday, Clubhouse Ride increased his sizable bankroll to $959,620 from a 28-4-8-8 record.
Clubhouse Ride is scheduled to face Game on Dude once again in the Grade 1 Hollywood Gold Cup on July 6.
"We're looking forward to the rematch in the Gold Cup," Lewis said.