02/21/2010 12:00AM

Bourbon Bay pulls away at Santa Anita

Benoit & Associates
Bourbon Bay (left) wins his first stakes in Sunday's Grade 2 San Luis Obispo at Santa Anita.

ARCADIA, Calif. - Since Bourbon Bay was acquired in fall 2008, there has been talk in the Neil Drysdale barn that the gelding would thrive in marathon turf races.

The point was emphatically proven in Sunday's at Santa Anita. Bourbon Bay won his second consecutive race over 1 1/2 miles on turf, and first stakes, in the Grade 2 San Luis Obispo, pulling clear of seven rivals in the final furlong to win by 4 1/4 lengths.

Ridden by leading jockey Rafael Bejarano, Bourbon Bay ($9.60) was timed in 2:28.89. He was given a confident ride; Bejarano kept Bourbon Bay just behind pacesetter Sudden War to early stretch before taking the lead.

Unusual Suspect, a 12-1 outsider, closed from seventh to finish second, 1 1/4 lengths in front of Sudden War. Dynamic Range, the 2-1 favorite, was well-placed on the turn but faded through the stretch to finish seventh, never threatening Bourbon Bay.

Owned by David and Jill Heerensperger, Bourbon Bay had won an optional claimer over 1 1/2 miles on turf here Jan. 6, his first career win since a maiden race on turf as a 2-year-old at Ellis Park in August 2008.

"He's come around this year," Drysdale said. "We purchased him thinking he was a mile-and-a-half horse. He ran well the other day. It looks like he's improving."

Bourbon Bay, who is by Sligo Bay, has won 3 of 11 starts and $209,424. He was purchased by the Heerenspergers after finishing second in the Cradle Stakes at River Downs in September 2008.