12/27/2014 6:33PM

Distinctiv Passion sets fast fractions, holds on in Midnight Lute

Benoit & Associates
Mike Smith manages to get Distinctiv Passion to carry his speed 6 1/2 furlongs in the Midnight Lute Stakes.

ARCADIA, Calif .-  Distinctiv Passion has been too fast for his own good at times.

A remarkably quick horse, Distinctiv Passion does not always finish well, a point not lost on jockey Mike Smith,  who rode the 4-year-old colt for the first time in Saturday’s $100,500 Midnight Lute Stakes at Santa Anita.

Smith guided Distinctiv Passion to his customary position on the lead in the Midnight Lute over 6 1/2 furlongs, but knew he needed to take a subtle approach.

 “I tried to get along with him,” Smith said.

That translated into fast fractions of 21.23 seconds for the opening quarter-mile and 42.99 seconds for a half-mile. Then, Distinctiv Passion ($15.60) kept going. He led by 1 1/2 lengths with a quarter-mile remaining and won by 1 3/4 lengths over 28-1 Heir of Storm.

The disappointment in the race was Secret Circle, the winner of the 2013 Breeders’ Cup Sprint who was fourth as the 1-5 favorite. Secret Circle was third on the backstretch but no factor in the stretch, finishing 2 3/4 lengths behind Distinctiv Passion.

As a result of a massive show bet on Secret Circle, the show payoffs on the first three finishers were inflated. Distinctiv Passion paid $10, Heir of Storm paid $22.40, and third-place finisher Appealing Tale paid $22.40.

Smith said Distinctiv Passion was content leading from the outside post in a field of seven, even though the colt set a torrid pace over a track that played fast on Saturday.

“I wanted to get him happy,” he said. “I had a good post to do that.

“I was on fumes at the end, but you’re supposed to be when you go that fast.”

Distinctiv Passion was timed in 1:14.55, winning for the sixth time in his 13-race career. The Midnight Lute Stakes was the longest win of Distinctiv Passion’s career. Owned by Edward Brown Jr., Alan Klein, and Phillip Lebherz and trained by Jeff Bonde, Distinctiv Passion won his first graded stakes in the Midnight Lute, which was previously run at Hollywood Park as the Vernon Underwood Stakes.

Bonde has won the last three runnings of the race, having won in 2012 with Smiling Tiger and the 2013 running with Majestic Stride.

Distinctiv Passion, by With Distinction, won the 2013 San Pedro Stakes for 3-year-olds here, and was first in the Green Flash Handicap over five furlongs on turf at Del Mar in 2013 only to be disqualified and placed third for causing interference in the final strides.

Distinctiv Passion has earned $296,180.