01/24/2010 12:00AM

Loup Breton gets up to take San Marcos

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Benoit & Associates
Loup Breton gets up to win by a half-length in Sunday's Grade 2 San Marcos.

ARCADIA, Calif. - Loup Breton won his first stakes in the United States in Sunday's at Santa Anita, a race that featured an element of suspense in the stretch.

Loup Breton was behind horses at a pivotal point with a furlong remaining and then bumped soundly with rival Riviera Cocktail before finding sufficient room to win by a half-length.

Jockey Garrett Gomez said he had little choice but to stay behind the leaders through the stretch, hoping for running room. When Gomez found space, Loup Breton responded quickly.

"I couldn't get out of where I was," Gomez said. "I could have gone wide, but I would have had to give up a length or two. He was like a loaded gun, waiting for somewhere to go."

The heavy favorite, Loup Breton ($3.20) ran 1 1/4 miles on turf in 2:00.94, scoring the fifth win of his 21-race career. Gomez had Loup Breton in sixth-place for the first mile, well behind the slow pace of 23.55 and 48.47 seconds set by Porfido.

The stretch run gave winning trainer Julio Canani fits.

"I prefer to be three-wide, and I would have had no problem," he said. "This is a really nice horse."

High Court Drama, who was third for the first mile, closed in the stretch to finish second, 1 3/4 lengths in front of Riviera Cocktail in the field of eight.

The Irish-bred Loup Breton, 6, is by Anabaa and has won 5 of 21 starts and $677,614 for Wildenstein Stable. The Grade 2 San Marcos Stakes was Loup Breton's third start in the United States, preceded by a win in an allowance race in November and a second as the favorite in the Grade 2 San Gabriel Handicap here Dec. 27. In France, Loup Breton won two group stakes, including the Group 2 Prix d'Harcourt in 2008.

*Rose Catherine ($3.40), who was second in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Filly Turf here in November, won her first stakes in the .

Ridden by Gomez, Rose Catherine led throughout the minor stakes for 3-year-old fillies on the hillside turf course, pulling away late to win by 3 1/2 lengths over Tanda. Owned by Paul Pompa, Jr., and trained by Todd Pletcher, Rose Catherine has won 2 of 6 starts and $246,707.