03/25/2012 5:07PM

Santa Anita: Bourbon Bay gobbles up ground late in San Luis Rey

Benoit & Associates
Bourbon Bay, ridden by Joel Rosario, runs down Slim Shadey in deep stretch to prevail by a head in the San Luis Rey.

ARCADIA, Calif.- Bourbon Bay rallied from last in a field of five, closing six lengths in the final quarter-mile, to score a thrilling win in Sunday’s $150,000 San Luis Rey Stakes at Santa Anita.

The 6-year-old Bourbon Bay won the sixth stakes of his career in the Grade 2 San Luis Rey, a race he won in 2010 when it was run as a handicap. Sunday’s win ended a four-race losing streak for Bourbon Bay, dating back to the Grade 3 Cougar II Handicap on the Polytrack synthetic surface at Del Mar last summer. The San Luis Rey was Bourbon’s Bay’s first win on turf since the Grade 2 San Marcos Stakes here in January 2011.

Bourbon Bay did not look like a winner until the final strides on Sunday. Ridden for the first time in more than three years by leading rider Joel Rosario, Bourbon Bay was almost three lengths behind Slim Shadey with a furlong to run, but closed with an eye-catching move on the outside to win by a head.

“I thought he waited too long,” winning trainer Neil Drysdale said of Rosario. “He had a lot of horse.”

  Sent off the favorite, Bourbon Bay ($4.40) ran about 1 1/2 miles on turf in 2:25.78. Slim Shadey, who won the Grade 2 San Marcos Stakes in February, held second, finishing 2 1/2 lengths in front of pacesetter Hog’s Hollow. Utopian and Porfido also ran, while Highway Bandit was scratched earlier on Sunday.

Bourbon Bay, by Sligo Bay, has won 8 of 25 starts and $878,536 for owners David and Jill Heerensperger. Drysdale said the $150,000 San Juan Capistrano Handicap over about 1 3/4 miles on turf on April 22 is likely to be Bourbon Bay’s next start. The San Luis Rey was Bourbon Bay’s second start of the year, preceded by a fourth in the San Marcos.

The San Luis Rey was run on the oval portion of the turf course because of early afternoon rain. Typically, turf races over 1 1/2 miles start on the hillside portion of the turf course and join the main over with about 1 1/8 miles remaining. Because the race was run on the oval, the distance was 97 feet shorter than 1 1/2 miles.