03/20/2009 11:00PM

Midships runs off with San Luis Rey


ARCADIA, Calif. - Allowed to set his own pace in a short field, Midships was impossible to catch in Saturday's $150,000 San Luis Rey Handicap at Santa Anita.

Midships ($7.20) led by a length for the first mile under jockey Victor Espinoza through modest fractions of 24.22 and 48.53 seconds, and scooted clear in early stretch to win the Grade 2 race at 1 1/2 miles on turf by 1 3/4 lengths. Midships was timed in 2:25.63.

"I was real confident with how he was running the whole way," Espinoza said. "He was running very easily."

Owned by Juddmonte Farms and trained by Bobby Frankel, Midships earned $90,000, improving his career record to 3 wins in 13 starts and earnings of $225,830.

Medici Code, the winner of the Grade 2 Del Mar Derby in 2007, closed from fourth to finish second, well clear of Artiste Royal, the 2-1 favorite. Artiste Royal stumbled leaving the gate, losing about three lengths. He raced at the back of the field until the final turn.

Bonjour finished fourth, followed by Spring House, who was third early and finished last. You Got Me Rocking and On Fire were withdrawn on the morning of the race.

Spring House, the winner of the Grade 2 San Luis Obispo Handicap here last month, was vanned off "as a precaution," according to steward Scott Chaney. Spring House was not urged through the final sixteenth by jockey Alex Solis.

Spring House was taken to trainer Julio Canani's stable for observation.

Joe Hernandez: Noble Court notches a stakes win

Noble Court ended a two-year stakes drought in the $71,300 Joe Hernandez Stakes on the hillside turf course.

Noble Court needed a few reminders from jockey Joel Rosario on the hillside before reaching contention in the stretch. Noble Court ($15.40) ran about 6 1/2 furlongs on the hillside turf course in 1:12.16.

Dodgen Bullet, who set the early pace of 22.36 and 44.81 seconds, held second, with Euroglide third in the field of eighth.

U S Ranger, who finished fifth in the Breeders' Cup Mile here last October, finished sixth in his first start of the year. He was sent off as the 7-5 favorite.

Noble Court, 5, races for Joy Ride Racing and trainer John Sadler. A winner of 5 of 10 starts and $275,778, Noble Court won the Grade 2 San Vicente Stakes at seven furlongs here in February 2007, but has been plagued by injuries in recent years.