01/03/2015 8:04PM

Finnegans Wake closes strongly to capture San Gabriel

Benoit & Associates
Finnegans Wake, ridden by Victor Espinoza, earns his second consecutive Grade 2 stakes victory in the San Gabriel.

ARCADIA, Calif .- Stay close, trainer Peter Miller thought as he watched Finnegans Wake on the backstretch of Saturday’s $200,750 San Gabriel Stakes at Santa Anita.

Finnegans Wake won the Grade 2 Hollywood Turf Cup over 1 1/2 miles at Del Mar on Nov. 27, and was cutting back in distance to 1 1/8 miles on turf for the Grade 2 San Gabriel. If Finnegans Wake did not have too much to do in the final furlong, a win was possible.

“I felt like we had a shot if he was within four or five lengths at the quarter pole,” Miller said.

Finnegans Wake, ridden by Victor Espinoza, trailed by approximately four lengths on the turn. With a wide rally, Finnegans Wake ($18) zoomed past five rivals in the final furlong to win by a length.

The win gave Miller thoughts of seven-figure stakes across the world, including potential starts in the $1 million Santa Anita Handicap on dirt here on March 7, or one of the $5 million turf races at Meydan Racecourse in Dubai on March 28 – the Sheema Classic over 1 1/2 miles or the Dubai Duty Free over 1 1/8 miles.

While that decision remains to be finalized, what is certain is that Finnegans Wake is in the best form of his career. The Turf Cup and San Gabriel are the first consecutive wins by Finnegans Wake in his 26-race career.

Despite his recent stakes win, Finnegans Wake was fourth betting choice in the San Gabriel. Espinoza had Finnegans Wake last in the field of eight on the first turn. Espinoza took a patient approach until early stretch.

“Victor gave him a super ride,” Miller said.

Finnegans Wake was timed in 1:48.38. Patriotricandproud, second in the Hollywood Turf Cup, closed from last in the final furlong to be second, three-quarters of a length in front of 26-1 Power Ped.

Tom’s Tribute, the 8-5 favorite, finished fourth. Ridden by Mike Smith, Tom’s Tribute was well-placed in early stretch, but could not sustain the effort and was beaten 1 3/4 lengths.

Skyring was fifth, followed by Dynamic Sky, Big Bane Theory, and Edge of Reality.

Finnegans Wake, a 6-year-old horse by Powerscourt, races for Donegal Racing and Rockingham Ranch. Finnegans Wake joined Miller’s stable from trainer Dale Romans during the summer when Rockingham Ranch became a partner. Last fall, Finnegans Wake finished 10th in the Breeders’ Cup Turf, five lengths behind Main Sequence.

Finnegans Wake has won 5 of 26 starts and earned $945,375.