PAT O'BRIEN STAKES | PURSE: $250,000 | 3-YEAR-OLS AND UP | GRADE 2 | 7 FURLONGS
Fed Biz, flying through the homestretch, caught tiring favorite Goldencents late to win the $250,000 Pat O'Brien Stakes by one length in track-record time at Del Mar Aug. 25, giving trainer Bob Baffert his fifth win in a row in the race.
The victory comes with an automatic berth in the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile Nov. 2 at Santa Anita Park as part of the "Win and You're In" challenge series. It would be a return trip for Fed Biz, who was eighth in the Dirt Mile a year ago.
Sent off at odds of 7-1, Fed Biz ran seven furlongs in 1:21.12 with Martin Garcia aboard, shaving .05 seconds off the Polytrack mark established by Lewis Michael in 2008. Garcia rode Game On Dude to victory in the TVG Pacific Classic for Baffert later in the afternoon.
"I just waited for the stretch, then I let him do his own thing," Garcia said. "He knew when to go and he knew what to do. Yes, this was a nice prep for the big one [Pacific Classic]."
Fed Biz, a 4-year-old son of Giant's Causeway who fetched $950,000 from owner Kaleem Shah at the 2010 Keeneland September yearling sale, won the San Fernando Stakes in January but had lost five races in a row since.
The bay colt, bred in Kentucky by Colts Neck Stables out of the Wild Again mare Spunoutacontrol, was coming off a fourth-place finish in the Eddie Read Stakes on the Del Mar turf July 20 for Garcia and Baffert.
The Hall of Fame trainer has won the Pat O'Brien a record seven times, beginning with Love That Red in 2000 and El Corredor in 2001. He returned to the winner's circle with Zensational in 2009, followed by El Brujo (2010), The Factor (2011), and Capital Account (2012).
A field of 12 included 4-5 favorite Goldencents, the Santa Anita Derby winner for trainer Doug O'Neill who was coming off a game try when a closing second by a nose in the six-furlong Bing Crosby July 28. The only 3-year-old in the field, Goldencents was second in the O'Brien with Gonna Fly Now third and Wine Police fourth.
Fed Biz had no early speed as No Silent took the early lead before he was challenged along the rail by Goldencents. He soon assumed command after a quarter-mile for jockey Patrick Valenzuela, who was subbing for the injured Joel Rosario. Fractions were :22.41 for the opening quarter-mile and :44.33 for the half.
Goldencents repelled all challengers to open up by 1 ½ lengths while completing six furlongs in 1:08.71 before drifting out while weakening in the final furlong. Fed Biz, who launched his bid from ninth on the turn, rallied furiously at the center of the track to grab the lead and draw off quickly under Garcia.
Goldencents was second by three-quarters of a length over Gonna Fly Now and Joe Talamo, who made a big push for third.
"We got away a little slow and we couldn't get lucky," said Valenzuela of Goldencents, who had been ridden in all nine of his prior starts by Kevin Krigger. "And then the winner sets a track record."
In his only prior try over the Del Mar main track, Fed Biz won the El Cajon Stakes over 3-year-olds one year ago.
"That's what happens when you have a horse that loves the surface," Baffert said. "He's a miler, but he loves this surface. He's been working with Paynter and just breezing over it. I told Martin to be patient and hopefully the speed will come back to you. We got a great run today."
Fed Biz's fifth lifetime win in 14 starts was worth $150,000, extending his earnings to $540,496.
Carrying top weight of 121 pounds, Fed Biz paid $17.60, $6, and $4.40. Goldencents returned $3 and $2.60 while rounding out a $42.60 exacta. Gonna Fly Now, making his stakes debut for trainer John Sadler, paid $4.80.
Morning Line scratched.