Updated on 03/06/2012 12:38PM

Santa Anita Handicap: Mott shipper Ron the Greek mows 'em down

Benoit & Associates
Ron the Greek, shipping in from the East Coast, relished the 1 1/4-mile distance of the Santa Anita Handicap.

ARCADIA, Calif.- Ron the Greek left jockey Jose Lezcano eager for the future after a runner-up finish in the Sunshine Millions Classic at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 28.

In that race over 1 1/8 miles, Ron the Greek closed well in the final furlong to finish 1 1/2 lengths behind Mucho Macho Man.

“It was a shorter distance and we couldn’t catch them,” Lezcano said.

The distance issue was solved when Ron the Greek started over 1 1/4 miles for the first time in Saturday’s $750,000 Santa Anita Handicap.

Closing from 10th in a field of 13, Ron the Greek caught Setsuko in the final furlong to win the most prestigious race of his career in his 17th start.

The victory was worth $450,000 to partners Brous Stable, Wachtel Stable, and Jack Hammer and trainer Bill Mott, who did not attend the race. Ron the Greek was the lone shipper from outside of California in the field.

Sunday's card will feature a meet-high pick-six carryover of $430,582 as the bet went unhit both Friday and Saturday.

Lezcano, winning the Big Cap for the first time, said his confidence soared in the 5-year-old Ron the Greek through the last half of the race.

“At the half-mile pole, I had a lot of horse and I had to keep riding my horse,” Lezcano said.

Ron the Greek was sixth with a quarter-mile remaining, trailing pacesetter Ultimate Eagle by four lengths. With a wide move, Ron the Greek took the lead with a furlong remaining and pulled clear to win by 3 1/2 lengths. Carrying 116 pounds, four less than topweight Ultimate Eagle, Ron the Greek ($9.20) was timed in 2:00.41. He was the third choice in the field of 13.

Setsuko, second in the 2011 Santa Anita Handicap, held second in Saturday’s race, finishing a half-length in front of 14-1 Uh Oh Bango.

Holladay Road finished fourth, followed by Norvsky, Boxeur des Rues, Twice the Appeal, Thirtyfirststreet, Fiddlers Afleet, Ultimate Eagle, Gladding, Prayer for Relief, and Victory Pete.

Setsuko, as far back as fifth for the first six furlongs, was alongside Ultimate Eagle in early stretch, but could not keep pace with Ron the Greek.

Jockey Victor Espinoza said he respected Ron the Greek’s chances and “wanted to get the first jump” on that rival.

“That horse blew me away,” Espinoza said. “It set up for me. I had a clean trip and that helps in a big field.”

Uh Oh Bango was last after six furlongs and was beaten four lengths in his first career start over 1 1/4 miles.

“He made a great move but we couldn’t grind it out for second,” jockey Mike Smith said.

Ultimate Eagle, the 2-1 favorite, was part of a fast pace duel with Gladding through early fractions of 22.26 and 44.55 seconds. He led into early stretch but faded through the final furlong.

Ultimate Eagle was racing on the inside turning into the stretch when apprentice jockey Eswan Flores tried to guide Thirtyfirstreet between Ultimate Eagle and the rail. Thirtyfirststreet did not have sufficient room, and struck the rail. After the race, Flores, 18, was near tears and declined to comment.

Ron the Greek started in his second Grade 1 race in the Big Cap, having finished sixth in the 2011 Donn Handicap at Gulfstream Park. At 3 in 2010, he won the Grade 3 LeComte Stakes at Fair Grounds, but was off the Kentucky Derby trail following sixth-place finishes in the Risen Star Stakes and Louisiana Derby.

Bred in Florida by Hammer, Ron the Greek is by Full Mandate, and has won 6 of 17 starts and $769,665.




John Zimpel More than 1 year ago
Perhaps it time to start calling the Santa Anita Handicap "the race formerly known as 'the Big Cap'".
Jeffrey Mathews More than 1 year ago
blame ourselves 4 quality of racing remember when "big cap" was real grade 1 runners but noooo ARTHUR HANCOCK took the $$ sold the greatest runner/sire ever!! SUNDAY SILENCE progeny will one day eclipse ONE BILLION $$ nough said
Bruce Baudoux More than 1 year ago
Sunday Silence is so far from being the greatest runner ever and at stud has yet to produce any world champions. Buddy, check the stats for horses like Seattle Slew, Secretariat, Affirmed all won a little contest called the Triple Crown, takes three to win it Sunday Silence couldn't do it, end of. And one of Seattle Slews sons, AP INDY is probably the best stallion we have seen in twenty years. Secretariats daughters are of the top notch broodmares in breeding sheds today. Funny that, AP Indys mom, Weekend Surprise, just happens to be a daughter of Secretariat. Perhaps I am missing some pertinent info on Sunday Silence but I think his best son Utopia is at stud somewhere in Japan as well. Never really got the exposure in North America since he was sold to Japan to stand there.
Paul Garcia More than 1 year ago
I agree the SS was not the "greatest runner ever". However, there is a reason why he is in the Hall of Fame and in the bottom half of the 100 greatest horses. Regarding his ability as a sire, the money speaks for itself. The gameness of horses out the Hail to Reason line is something we lost a lot of by shipping Sunday to Japan.
Babette Cade More than 1 year ago
I think Utopia is in New York.
Alex Martinez More than 1 year ago
I really hope it isn't a sub 100 beyer but I think that's what will happen. The fact that Mott didn't even bother to show up for a $750,000 shows the lackluster of the California Handicap division right now. Hopefully things will be better by the time the Hollywood Gold Cup rolls around.
Bruce Baudoux More than 1 year ago
Better start inventing horses buddy, racing on the west coast is hurting! We are so tired of small fields and favorites winning all the time that California racing is dwindling in popularity as a simulcast signal. Hope it gets better soon.
Jordan Miller More than 1 year ago
A sub-100 Beyer for the Big Cap?
Bruce Baudoux More than 1 year ago
Figures don't lie but liars can figure! Don't worry about the numbers yet, it's early in the year.
Jordan Miller More than 1 year ago
Ron the Greek runs the final quater in 26 and 1 and wins off by himself. How bad is the California handicap division with Game on Dude going to Dubai? But the pace completely distorted the race. Even Setsuko might have been too close to it, and he was 5th early. All the other top finishers were well, well back early.
Slew32A More than 1 year ago
You may be right. Lezcano was already whipping around the turn just kid of grinded it out. but UE and setsuko were both off big come back efforts and with the stretch out the probability of bouncing were there.
William Hawk More than 1 year ago
Pedroza should get days! Thirtyfirststreet had room enough before Martin cut the corner like he was in Pomona! No one was gonna beat the winner anyway.
Bruce Baudoux More than 1 year ago
Good revelatioins Bill, you are correct, no horse was going to beat the son of Lawyer Ron yesterday. This is a very game colt and is starting to show it with victories on both coasts. Great trainer\jockey combo right now so I expect we will see Ron The Greek in some of the bigger handicap races this year. Good looking colt ran to his looks and his pedigree yesterday, good on ya Billy Mott!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sorry about that folks, apparently Ron The Greek is by Full Mandate, you learn something everyday on this site, sorry gang.
OblivionSuckers More than 1 year ago
No one was going to beat the immortal Ron the Greek? One of the biggest cognitive fallacies in racing is that retroactive certainty. A horse could get literally launched airborne and wind up in the infield lake, and someone will fatuously claim that the trouble didn't matter,he was never going to beat the winner anyway. I didn't have a dime on Thirtyfirststreet and I'm not sure if he would have beaten the winner, but he had a ton of run and would have gotten a nice jump on him, and very well might have scored.
Bruce Baudoux More than 1 year ago
My apologies gang, bad on me!
Bruce Baudoux More than 1 year ago
Marty Pedroza is a better actor than jockey! Needs a bigger part on LUCK!
Marc Ferrell More than 1 year ago
I agree, Pedroza and team were telling everyone all week how their horse would run everyone else "into the ground" that tried to go with him. Guess that did not work out for him. He couldn't back it up. While he had a good performance in the Strub, his last 1/8 in that race was a pedestrian 13 seconds.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Lesson #1 worst touts on the track.............jockeys. How do they know? They haven't ridden all the other horses in the race so how do they tout their own? Three quarters in nine and some change was a suicide ride. Pedroza off Rosario on!
Vin More than 1 year ago
One of the worst rides I have ever seen in a big race by Martin Pedroza......just let Gladding go
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
absolutely correct, I have notice Martins arrogance in the past when he feels he is on a world beater. He rides them like he owns them, not like the conditioners instructions at all. I bet he lays in bed at night praying for Pomona!