04/27/2013 8:00PM

Hollywood Park: Bejarano completes three-win stakes day on Surfcup in Snow Chief

Benoit & Associates
Rafael Bejarano wins his third stakes of the day aboard Surfcup in the $300,000 Snow Chief.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Jockey Rafael Bejarano is closing in on his 3,000th career win in a hurry.

Saturday, he won three races at Betfair Hollywood Park, all stakes on California Gold Rush Day, including the $300,000 Snow Chief Stakes with Surfcup.

Through Saturday, Bejarano, 30, has 2,989 wins. He won four races at Hollywood Park on Friday to take an early lead in the  spring-summer meeting that began on Thursday.

For Bejarano, the win by Surfcup was preceded by stakes victories on Saturday aboard Doinghardtimeagain in the $245,000 Melair Stakes and Kate’s Event in the $125,250 Tiznow Stakes. Those wins were for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer.

Bejarano rode Surfcup for trainer Bob Baffert and owner-breeder Don Dizney.

Surfcup won the Snow Chief Stakes in a minor upset.

Sent off as the 5-1 third choice, Surfcup ($12) was near the front throughout the race over 1 1/8 miles for California-bred 3-year-olds.  Surfcup stalked pacesetter Bobo for the first six furlongs, took a narrow lead in early stretch, and held off a sustained threat from Fighting Hussar to win by a half-length in 1:50.80.

Bobo set a modest pace of 24.24 and 48.14 seconds, closely followed by Surfcup, who raced within a length of the lead.

“I thought he’d show a lot of speed,” Bejarano said. “When I saw [Bobo] go for the lead, I put him right behind. He loved [the track] and he felt comfortable the whole way, I thought. My horse was running at the end.”

Fighting Hussar, a 6-1 chance, finished four lengths in front of Tiz a Minister, the 11-10 favorite in the field of eight. Tiz a Minister had been mentioned as a possible runner in the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 4, but trainer Paul Aguirre strongly downplayed the possibility of a quick turnaround after the Snow Chief Stakes.

Surfcup, a colt by Unusual Heat, has won 3 of 6 starts and $275,800. He was third in the California Breeders’ Champion Stakes at Santa Anita in January, won an allowance race for California-breds over a mile on turf on March 1, and was a troubled fourth in the Echo Eddie Stakes for statebred sprinters on March 30.

Correction: A headline on a previous version of this article misstated the jockey who won three California Gold Rush stakes. It was Rafael Bejarano, not Corey Nakatani.