Updated on 09/15/2011 1:11PM

Freedom Crest upsets Skimming, Tiznow


ARCADIA, Calif. - Freedom Crest, a former $32,000 claimer, conquered California handicap stars Skimming and Tiznow in Sunday's $488,000 Goodwood Breeders' Cup Handicap at Santa Anita.

The shock upset at 39-1 could lead to a start in the Breeders' Cup Classic later this month for the 5-year-old Freedom Crest, who was claimed by owner Calvin Nguyen in June 1999.

The second-longest shot in the field, Freedom Crest ($80) stalked the frontrunning Skimming to the top of the stretch and took the lead with a furlong remaining. A gelding, Freedom Crest won by a length over Skimming, the winner of the Pacific Classic at Del Mar in August. Freedom Crest finished 1 1-8 miles in 1:48.86 before a stunned ontrack crowd of 12,583.

Tiznow, who won the 2000 Goodwood and Breeders' Cup Classic, finished third, 1 1-2 lengths behind Freedom Crest, and was followed by Dig For It, Dixie Dot Com and Tribunal.

Tiznow was 2 1-2 lengths behind Freedom Crest at the eighth-pole, but closed ground late. He remains on target for the Breeders' Cup Classic at Belmont Park on Oct. 27, according to co-owner Michael Cooper.

"I thought he finished strong," Cooper said. "A mile and a quarter is his game and hopefully he'll show his best."

Nguyen and trainer Richard Baltas were too stunned to contemplate the Breeders' Cup.

"I don't want to think that right now," Nguyen said in the winner's circle. "I want to soak this in."

Ridden by Kent Desormeaux, Freedom Crest carried 116 pounds, seven less than Skimming and eight fewer than Tiznow. Always close, Freedom Crest stalked Skimming on the first turn through fractions of 22.30 and 45.53 seconds. At the end of the backstretch, through six furlongs in 1:09.59, Freedom Crest drew alongside Skimming, with Tiznow in contention three-wide.

"I told Kent not to fight him," Baltas said. "At the quarter-pole, I thought he had a shot."

The victory was Freedom Crest's second stakes win of 2001; last January, he won the Grade 2 San Pasqual Handicap over this track. In between, he lost three races and fought an illness.

"I didn't expect him to run this well, but he's a very good horse," Baltas said. "Everything was right today."