10/18/2014 5:04PM

Boozer gets things his own way to win California Flag

Shigeki Kikkawa
The 3-5 favorite Boozer wins the California Flag Handicap by 2 1/2 lengths Saturday at Santa Anita Park.

ARCADIA, Calif. – Boozer had an easy journey to win his first stakes Saturday in the $98,000 California Flag Handicap at Santa Anita.

Sent off as the 3-5 favorite against three rivals, Boozer set a moderate pace on the hillside turf course and pulled away in the final furlong to win by 2 1/2 lengths. Boozer ($3.40) ran about 6 1/2 furlongs on the hillside turf course in 1:12.36.

The California Flag Handicap for statebreds drew a field of six but was reduced to four starters after the scratches of Ain’t No Other and Red Outlaw.

Boozer, who was ridden by leading rider Rafael Bejarano, set a modest pace of 22.89 seconds for the opening quarter-mile and 45.16 for a half-mile while leading by at least a half-length. He pulled away after crossing over onto the main turf course.

“The race was a bit depleted by the scratches, and he got things his own way,” trainer Mark Glatt said. “He was supposed to win. He picked it up nicely. When I saw 22 and change, I thought, ‘We can’t mess this up.’ He did his job.”

Tamarando, the winner of the Grade 3 El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate Fields last April, finished second, a half-length in front of Super Ability. Heat Flash was last of four.

Boozer, a 4-year-old gelding by Unusual Heat, races for Al and Sandee Kirkwood. Boozer has won 5 of 12 starts and earned $292,672. The California Flag was Boozer’s third win in his last four starts, a sequence that includes two wins over 1 1/16 miles on turf at Del Mar – an optional claimer for California-breds July 18 and an allowance race Aug. 31.

“He’s a versatile horse,” Glatt said. “He was impressive winning at a mile and a sixteenth. We’ll keep him on the grass.”