10/13/2012 6:47PM

Santa Anita: Maui Mark surprises in Cal Cup Sprint

Benoit & Associates
Maui Mark, with Garrett Gomez aboard, gets up for the victory in the California Cup Sprint.

ARCADIA, Calif. - Trainer Bob Hess Jr. didn't care whether Maui Mark would be on the lead early in the $100,000 California Cup Sprint on Saturday at Santa Anita, or well back, he just reiterated to jockey Garrett Gomez in the paddock that he wanted him in the clear when it was time to go.

Maui Mark didn't get off sharply from the rail, so Gomez patiently bided his time, then shrewdly took him to the center of the track for the stretch run, and Maui Mark did the rest. He closed stoutly to post an 8-1 surprise in the Cal Cup Sprint, a significant feat for a 7-year-old gelding who was claimed for $20,000 in March.

Maui Mark ($19) got to the wire a half-length in front of Ain't No Other, with Obsess 1 1/4 lengths farther back in third. Derby Gold, the 8-5 favorite, faded to seventh in the field of nine, sapped by contested fractions of 21.52 seconds for the opening quarter and 44 seconds for the half.

Under jockey Garrett Gomez, Maui Mark completed six furlongs on the fast main track in 1:09.03. The win was the 10th in 26 starts for Maui Mark, and his third in five races since being claimed by Hess on behalf of owners Mike Carter and Charles Galea.

Saturday's race was the first for Maui Mark since July 25 at Saratoga, where he finished last of five in a starter handicap.

"He pulled his left stifle in that race," Hess said. "He's still only 85 percent, weight-wise and coat-wise.

"He'll need some time after this," added Hess, who said the On Trust at Hollywood Park's fall meeting was a likely next target.

Hess said Gomez gave Maui Mark "a great ride."

"You have to get him in the clear," Hess said. "He can be a little timid inside."