11/28/2009 12:00AM

Fluke's Citation victory bittersweet


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Fluke's win in Friday's at Hollywood Park was a milestone that trainer Humberto Ascanio would have gladly postponed indefinitely.

The Grade 1 race was Ascanio's first stakes win since the death of his boss, Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel, from a lengthy illness on Nov. 16. Ascanio has taken over Frankel's 22-horse stable at Hollywood Park, and Fluke and Proudinsky, who finished fourth in the Citation, were the stable's first stakes starters since then.

Fluke ($20) rallied from fifth on the turn to win the Citation by 1 1/4 lengths over Ever a Friend, finishing 1 1/16 miles on turf in 1:40.48. Cowboy Cal finished third in the field of eight, with 2-1 favorite Blue Chagall last after a wide trip in the final half-mile.

After the race, Ascanio's thoughts were with Frankel. "Bobby said, 'Be positive and when they train good, they'll run good,' " Ascanio said. "He was right. He left me in good shape."

The Citation was the biggest win of Fluke's 11-race career. Owned by Patricia Bozano, Fluke was a Group 3 stakes winner in Brazil in 2008, but was only fifth in the Grade 1 Maker's Mark Mile at Keeneland last April in his American stakes debut.

Fluke made his final start for Frankel at Belmont Park in September, winning an optional claimer by 3 1/4 lengths over a mile on turf. The emphatic win was not enough to impress bettors for the Citation. Fluke was the sixth choice in a field of eight.

Ridden by Joe Talamo, Fluke was always near the front. Talamo had Fluke in fourth for the first half-mile, stalking pacesetter Enriched through early fractions of 23.71 and 48.42 seconds. Talamo urged Fluke between horses in the stretch and they pulled away late.

The jockey's effort impressed Ascanio.

"He rode confidently and thought the horse could win," Ascanio said. "He rode with confidence and I like that."

Ever a Friend, the winner of the Grade 1 Frank Kilroe Mile in 2008, finished three-quarters of a length in front of Cowboy Cal.

Fluke has won 5 of 11 starts and $308,348. A 4-year-old Brazilian-bred colt by Wild Event, Fluke is expected to stay in training in 2010. Ascanio said it was unclear whether the colt would stay with him, but expressed optimism that he would continue to train him.