04/22/2012 8:35PM

Santa Anita: Bourbon Bay erases huge deficit to repeat in San Juan Capistrano

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BENOIT PHOTO
Bourbon Bay, ridden by Joel Rosario, prevails by a nose in the San Juan Capistrano Handicap.

ARCADIA, Calif.- Halfway through Sunday’s $150,000 San Juan Capistrano Handicap over about 1 3/4 miles on turf, Bourbon Bay trailed leader Hog’s Hollow by more than 11 lengths.

With a quarter-mile remaining, Bourbon Bay trailed new leader Harrods Creek by more than four lengths, a deficit that was unchanged with a furlong left. Bourbon Bay continued to narrow the gap to the front late. He led for one jump of the Grade 2 San Juan Capistrano – the last.

Bourbon Bay won by a nose over an unlucky Eagle Poise, who looked like a winner for most of the last sixteenth. Ridden by Joel Rosario, Bourbon Bay ($4) was timed in 2:28.69, winning the Grade 2 San Juan Capistrano for the second time.

“For a second, I thought I got beat,” Rosario said. “I got lucky and I got there.”

Owned by David and Jill Heerensperger, Bourbon Bay became the first two-time winner of the San Juan Capistrano since T.H. Approval in 2005-2006. Bourbon Bay won the 2010 San Juan Capistrano, but did not start in the race last year, having traveled to Dubai, where he finished 11th in the $5 million Sheema Classic.

Bourbon Bay, by Sligo Bay, gave trainer Neil Drysdale his fourth career win in the San Juan Capistrano.

Rosario found Bourbon Bay to be quieter on Sunday than he was in his last start, a victory in the Grade 2 San Luis Rey Stakes on March 25.

“He was more focused,” Rosario said of that race.

Sunday, Rosario said that Bourbon Bay broke well, but that he did not urge the gelding.

“He broke well and I didn’t want to push him,” Rosario said. “I didn’t want him to get too much on the bridle.”

Bourbon Bay began to make up ground on the turn, and quickened noticeably once he settled into the stretch.  “He wanted to go,”

Rosario said. “He was more focused.”

Eagle Poise finished 1 1/2 lengths in front of Harrods Creek, who yielded the lead with less than a furlong remaining.

The victory was worth $90,000, improving Bourbon Bay’s career record to 9 wins in 26 starts and earnings of $968,536. The San Juan Capistrano was Bourbon Bay’s seventh stakes win.