12/28/2014 7:59PM

Bettys Bambino overcomes pre-race trouble to win Daytona

Benoit Photo
Bettys Bambino wins the Daytona Stakes by a half-length Sunday at Santa Anita Park.

ARCADIA, Calif. – Adrenaline helped jockey Martin Garcia guide Bettys Bambino to victory in Sunday’s $101,000 Daytona Stakes on the hillside turf course at Santa Anita.

In the moments before the Grade 3 race over about 6 1/2 furlongs, Garcia said Bettys Bambino became upset in the gate, striking Garcia on the head and briefly pinning his knee against the side of the gate.

Garcia said he was able to ride the race without significant pain but felt discomfort in the winner’s circle and as he walked back to the jockey’s room.

“At the moment, you’re excited, and you don’t feel as much,” Garcia said of the race.

Garcia took off his mount on a maiden claimer in Sunday’s final race.

Bettys Bambino ($8) closed from sixth in a field of nine to win the Daytona Stakes by a half-length over the 4-1 Lil Bit O’Fun. Sweet Swap, the 6-5 favorite, led narrowly with a furlong remaining but could not sustain the lead and was beaten two lengths.

Bettys Bambino was fifth with a furlong remaining, trailing by 1 1/4 lengths.

Play Hard to Get was fourth, followed by Ankeny Hill, Mr. Sexy, Fleet Eagle, Eddie’s First, and Clubhouse Ride.

Bettys Bambino, a 4-year-old California-bred gelding by leading stallion Unusual Heat, won his third consecutive race in the Daytona. The streak includes two races on the hillside during the autumn meeting – an allowance race Sept. 27 and an optional claimer Oct. 16.

Owned by Sharon Alesia, Bran Jam Stable, and Ciaglia Racing, Bettys Bambino is trained by Peter Eurton. Bettys Bambino has won 5 of 9 starts and earned $258,036.