10/08/2012 6:01PM

Santa Anita: Gervinho overcomes slip to win Zuma Beach


ARCADIA, Calif. - Gervinho overcame a brief loss of footing on the turn to win his stakes debut in Monday’s $100,000 Zuma Beach Stakes for 2-year-olds at Santa Anita.

Gervinho ($4.20) showed a remarkable rally through the final furlong of the one-mile turf race, closing 2 1/2 lengths to reach the front and finish a half-length in front of Den’s Legacy. Dancing Upside Down, who set an early pace of 23.11 and 46.62 seconds, held third in the field of six.

Gervinho ran a mile on turf in 1:34.59. The race was a prep for the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf for colts and geldings here on Nov. 3.

Ridden by Rafael Bejarano, Gervinho saved ground for much of the Zuma Beach Stakes. Racing in fifth on the turn, Gervinho lost his footing for a stride or two, and Bejarano said he was concerned about the colt’s well-being.

“By the three-eighths, he slipped really bad,” Bejarano said. “I lost a couple of lengths.”

Turning into the stretch, Bejarano regained his confidence and guided Gervinho outside of rivals. Gervinho gave him an immediate response. Gervinho was fourth with a furlong remaining and took the lead in the final sixteenth.

“He came rolling and showed me a big kick,” Bejarano said.

Owned by Keith Brackpool, the chairman of the California Horse Racing Board, Gervinho is unbeaten in two starts. A California-bred by Unusual Heat, Gervinho won his debut at Del Mar in a maiden race over 5 1/2 furlongs on Sept. 3.