10/12/2009 12:00AM

Gayego's late rush captures Ancient Title

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Benoit & Associates
Ridden by Garrett Gomez, Gayego came from five lengths back at the qaurter pole to win the Ancient Title by 1 1/4 lengths.

ARCADIA, Calif. - A quarter-mile move that took Gayego from the back of the field to the lead in Sunday's $300,000 Ancient Title Stakes at Santa Anita was enough to assure the 4-year-old a berth in the Breeders' Cup Sprint on Nov. 7.

Ridden by Garrett Gomez, Gayego passed the quarter-pole trailing by five lengths and won the Grade 1 Ancient Title by a comfortable 1 1/4 lengths. The margin that Gayego needed to find in the stretch did not concern trainer Saeed bin Suroor.

"No problem," Suroor said. "He's always had a good turn of foot. He handled the surface really well."

Gayego ran six furlongs in 1:08.28, outrunning Crown of Thorns, who rallied along the rail to finish a half-length in front of 19-1 Delta Storm in the field of 10. Cost of Freedom, the defending champion in the Ancient Title, finished fourth.

Red Arrow, who set an early pace of 21.69 and 44.50 seconds, faded to finish last.

The Ancient Title was part of the Breeders' Cup Win and You're In program, guaranteeing a starting berth in the BC Sprint for the winner.

The Ancient Title was an important race for Gayego. In three previous starts this year, he had only one other stakes win, the Group 3 Mahab Al Shimaal at six furlongs in Dubai in March. He won an optional claimer at Saratoga on Aug. 17, in his first start since finishing second in the $1 million Godolphin Mile in March.

Gayego was steadied slightly at the start of the Ancient Title, and was ninth on the backstretch.

"I wasn't surprised that he settled as well as he did because they said he would," Gomez said. "I just didn't know how much of a turn of foot he'd have, but he answered the question."

Owned by the Maktoum family's Godolphin Racing, Gayego, 4, has won 7 of 13 starts and $1,299,620. He won the 2008 Arkansas Derby before being acquired by Godolphin in late 2008.