Updated on 09/17/2011 9:41AM

Congaree captures San Pasqual


ARCADIA, Calif. - Congaree continued his assault on the handicap division with a convincing win in Saturday's $150,000 at Santa Anita.

What may discourage the competition was the style of Congaree's victory.

Instead of his customary position on or near the lead, Congaree was fourth for the first six furlongs of the San Pasqual, much to the delight of trainer Bob Baffert and jockey Jerry Bailey.

"I knew he was the best horse in the race," Baffert said. "I told Jerry, 'Let's teach him something today.'"

With a wide rally, Congaree ($3.60) kicked clear in the final furlong to win by six lengths, finishing 1 1-16 miles in 1:41.04.

"It was exciting to see that the Congaree we expected showed up," Baffert said.

The San Pasqual was Congaree's second consecutive stakes win. He won the Cigar Mile Handicap at Aqueduct on Nov. 30.

The 121-pound topweight in the San Pasqual, Congaree was fourth for the first half-mile, two lengths behind Freedom Crest, who set fractions of 23.92 and 47.71 seconds. Bailey moved closer to the leaders on the final turn.

"In the middle of the turn, I could have gone whenever I wanted," Bailey said.

Kudos, making his first start since winning the Oaklawn Handicap last April, finished second, a nose in front of Hot Market in the field of nine older horses. Kudos was third early, dropped back to fifth on the final turn, but stayed on to finish a well-beaten second.

Congaree races for Robert and Janice McNair and has won 8 of 15 starts and $1,723,400. The San Pasqual was the sixth career stakes win for Congaree, the third-place finisher in the 2001 Kentucky Derby.

*After proving difficult to saddle in the paddock, Shalini responded with her first stakes win in the $100,000 Pro or Con Handicap for California-bred fillies and mares.

Ridden by Corey Nakatani, Shalini ($9.60) rallied from last in the final quarter-mile to beat Serene in Seattle by a neck. Shalini ran a mile on turf in 1:35.09.

"She's tough on her self, but she's consistent on the racetrack," trainer Craig Dollase said. "She can get a little mental."

Serene in Seattle finished 2 1-2 lengths in front Jenna's Joy, who set the pace to early stretch. Calzada Kid was fourth, followed by Nicole's Pursuit (the 5-2 favorite), Icee Cheaspeake, and Top of Our Game.

Shalini races for breeders Jim and Richard Briere. A 4-year-old filly, she has won 3 of 13 starts and $158,770.

Dollase said Shalini will be considered for the $750,000 Sunshine Millions Distaff for California-breds and Florida-breds over 1 1-16 miles on dirt at Santa Anita on Jan. 25. The race is preferred to the Filly and Mare Turf at Gulfstream Park because Dollase said he would prefer not to ship Shalini.