07/04/2016 7:41PM

Mrazek cruises to win in Thor's Echo Handicap

Benoit & Associates
Mrazek, with Mario Gutierrez aboard, wins the Thor's Echo Handicap by 1 1/2 lengths Monday.

ARCADIA, Calif. – After mixed results in graded stakes in the spring, Mrazek won his second stakes, and remained unbeaten against California-breds, with a win in Monday’s $100,345 Thor’s Echo Handicap at Santa Anita.

Ridden confidently by Mario Gutierrez, Mrazek ($4.80) rallied wide on the turn and was not urged late to win the six-furlong race by 1 1/2 lengths over 9-1 Love My Bud. Nardo, a 6-1 shot, finished third.

Mrazek was the only 3-year-old in the field of six.

Love My Bud and Nardo started in stakes for the first time in the Thor’s Echo. Magic Mark, the winner of the 2015 Bertrando Stakes at Los Alamitos, finished fourth, followed by two other stakes winners – Raised a Secret and Forest Chatter.

Mrazek was timed in 1:09.45. Gutierrez said he took advantage of an outside draw with Mrazek to stalk the pace. He said he waited until the field approached the stretch before guiding Mrazek wide.

 “I didn’t want to be so wide,” Gutierrez said. “I saved ground on the turn. I was wide when I wanted to be.”

A colt by Square Eddie, Mrazek is owned by Paul and Zillah Reddam and trained by Doug O’Neill, the same team behind Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist. Gutierrez is the regular rider of Nyquist.

Mrazek has won 3 of 8 starts and earned $229,437. Mrazek beat California-bred maidens in his debut in May 2015 and won his first stakes in the Graduation Stakes for California-breds at Del Mar last August.

Earlier this year, Mrazek was second to eventual stakes winner Justin Squared in an optional claimer at Los Alamitos before finishing second in the Grade 3 Laz Barrera Stakes here and a disappointing 10th in the Grade 2 Woody Stephens Stakes at Belmont Park on June 11. The Barrera and Stephens were restricted to 3-year-olds.

“This field was a bit easier,” Gutierrez said.

Mrazek could stay within the California-bred division for the $150,000 Real Good Deal Stakes for 3-year-olds at seven furlongs on July 27.