05/11/2014 5:50PM

Maiden breaks Santa Anita downhill turf course record


ARCADIA, Calif .- Eddie’s First lowered the course record for about 6 1/2 furlongs on the hillside turf at Santa Anita on Sunday, leading throughout to finish in 1:10.73.

The clocking beat the previous mark of 1:11.10 set by California Flag in the Grade 3 Morvich Handicap in September 2008.

Eddie’s First ($4.20) disputed the pace throughout Sunday’s fourth race for California-bred maidens. Ridden by Elvis Trujillo, who carried 117 pounds, the 3-year-old Eddie’s First was a head behind Smart Journey after an opening quarter-mile in 21.48 seconds. Eddie’s First took the lead on the hillside, and led by a length through a half-mile in 42.58 seconds.

Eddie’s First widened his lead in the final three furlongs. He led by five lengths with a furlong remaining and won by 9 1/4 lengths over Smart Journey, who was 4 1/2 lengths in front of third-place finisher Otto’s Echo in the field of eight.

The final time was slightly faster than a hand-timed clocking by track timer Dane Nelson, who recorded early fractions of 21.35 and 42.29, and a final time of 1:10.81.

Eddie’s First is a Square Eddie colt owned by breeders Paul and Zillah Reddam and trained by Doug O’Neill. Sunday’s race was Eddie’s First’s fifth start. He was eighth and ninth in maiden races last fall before being rested for nearly five months.

“He’s a horse that we’ve always been excited about,” O’Neill said. “We were very high on him. It’s strange to say this, but after his first few races we were a little disappointed. He had a little bit of a shin.”

Eddie’s First finished sixth in a maiden race against open company on the hillside turf course on April 5, his first start of the year. The colt was second in a maiden race for California-breds over a mile on turf on April 26.

O’Neill said he was stunned that Eddie’s First set a course record.

“Today was monstrous,” he said. “I think we have a future stakes horse.”