10/06/2012 6:16PM

Santa Anita: Following Conway Victory, Merit Man headed to Breeders' Cup Juvenile Sprint


ARCADIA, Calif. - Merit Man could have won Saturday’s $100,000 Tim Conway Stakes at Santa Anita by more than 5 1/2 lengths if he had paid attention through all of the six furlongs.

“He kind of pulled himself up at bit when he saw a photographer,” winning jockey Patrick Valenzuela said. “He’s a nice horse."

And a horse on his way to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Sprint here on Nov. 2 after winning his stakes debut in the Tim Conway.

“He’s totally a sprinter,” winning trainer Bob Hess, Jr. said. “He was fluid over the dirt, which I expected. He broke more alertly, which I expected.”

Merit Man ($7.80) fought for the lead throughout the Conway and was in command in early stretch. He was timed in 1:10.56.

South Floyd, the winner of a maiden race at Fairplex Park in September, finished second, followed by No Rachmones, Zeewat, and Scherer Magic, the 6-5 favorite. Scherer Magic was just behind the leaders to the turn before fading from contention.

Merit Man races for the partnership of Bruce Chandler, Double Kee and Purple Shamrock Racing. A colt by With Distinction, Merit Man won a maiden race at Del Mar on Sept. 2 in his first start. He has earned $102,000.

The mount on Merit Man was Valenzuela’s first ride since Sept. 28. He missed a week of racing because of a sore knee.

“I’m a little sore, but I feel good,” he said after the race.