Updated on 09/16/2011 6:42AM

Irish Prize just gets there


ARCADIA, Calif. - Irish Prize had never before run as far as 1 1/4 miles, and he needed every bit of the 10 furlongs on Monday at Santa Anita, when he got up in the very last jump to nose out 13-1 shot Continental Red to capture the Grade 2, $150,000 San Marcos Handicap*.

"I didn't think he was going to get up," winning trainer Neil Drysdale said.

All six runners were separated by fewer than three lengths at the finish of the turf race. Cagney was a half-length behind Continental Red in third. Lord Flasheart was fifth as the even-money favorite.

Irish Prize, the 2-1 second choice, paid $6.40 to win after completing the distance in 2:01.27 on the firm course.

Irish Prize has been a miler, and a very good one, for the past two years, during which he has won nine of 18 starts for Drysdale. He won the Grade 1 Shoemaker Breeders' Cup Mile last summer at Hollywood Park, and was fourth in the Breeders' Cup Mile.

But after winning the 1 1/8-mile San Gabriel Handicap for the second straight year on Dec. 30, Drysdale and jockey Gary Stevens agreed that Irish Prize had matured enough to handle the extra distance.

Stevens never reached back and hit Irish Prize with his whip, and only waved the whip alongside Irish Prize's right eye in the final 150 yards.

The San Marcos provided Stevens with his third victory on the card, including the Santa Ynez Stakes earlier with Dancing, who rallied from last and got up in the final yards to win the Grade 2, $150,000 race for 3-year-old fillies. The longest shot in the field, Dancing paid $38 to win and was timed in 1:23.07 for seven furlongs on the fast main track. Respectful was second, a half-length in front of Lady George. Ayanna, the 6-5 favorite, faded to finish last.


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