10/05/2013 8:04PM

Santa Anita: Points Offthebench gets fourth straight win in Sprint Championship

Benoit & Associates
Points Offthebench, ridden by Mike Smith, wins the Santa Anita Sprint Championship on Saturday for his fourth consecutive victory.

ARCADIA, Calif. – Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith won three stakes on the same program for the first time in almost two years at Santa Anita on Saturday, finishing the hat trick by guiding Points Offthebench to a sharp win in the $250,000 Santa Anita Sprint Championship.

Earlier in the day, Smith won two one-mile turf stakes, with Miss Pippa in the Swingtime Stakes and No Jet Lag in the Grade 2 City of Hope Mile. It was Smith’s first day with three stakes wins since he rode Salty Strike (Dream Supreme), Amazombie (Breeders’ Cup  Sprint) and Drosselmeyer (BC Classic) at Churchill Downs on Nov. 5, 2011.

Smith finished Saturday’s card with 10 wins at the meet.

The victory by Points Offthebench secured a berth in the $1.5 million Breeders’ Cup Sprint here Nov. 2 for the 4-year-old gelding. The Grade 1 Santa Anita Sprint Championship was part of the Breeders’ Cup Win and You’re In program, offering a fees-paid berth to the BC Sprint for the winner.

Points Offthebench had won the Grade 1 Bing Crosby Stakes at Del Mar in July, a race that offered a fees-paid berth to the $1 million BC Turf Sprint on Nov. 2.

Points Offthebench ($11.20) won the Santa Anita Sprint Championship by a half-length over 7-5 favorite Goldencents, running six furlongs in 1:08.

“He’s very talented,” Smith said of the winner.

Distinctiv Passion set a blistering early pace of 21.45 and 43.69 seconds, leading by as much as 4 1/2 lengths entering the stretch. Distinctiv Passion’s advantage began to dwindle before the eighth pole. He led by a length with a furlong remaining, with Points Offthebench poised to take over from second.

Smith said Points Offthebench reached the front quicker than he would have preferred.

“If you make the front too soon, he can pull himself up,” Smith said. “He showed me a good turn of foot. He locked into that horse and had it in his mind to go get him.”

Goldencents, the winner of the Santa Anita Derby last April, closed well to finish second for the third consecutive time in a graded stakes for sprinters. He was second to Points Offthebench in the Bing Crosby and second to Fed Biz in the Grade 2 Pat O’Brien Stakes at Del Mar in August.

Jockey Rafael Bejarano said Goldencents’s second-place finish Saturday was a good prep for the $1 million BC Dirt Mile on Nov. 1.

“My horse was still running at the end,” Bejarano said. “He might need a little more distance. At a mile, he will be good.”

Distinctiv Passion held third, finishing two lengths behind Points Offthebench. Gonna Fly Now finished fourth, followed by Roman Threat, Centralinteligence, and Trinniberg.

Trinniberg, the champion sprinter of 2012, never was a factor. He was fourth on the backstretch and tailed off in the final quarter-mile.

Points Offthebench races for Donnie Crevier and Charles Martin and is trained by Tim Yakteen. A California-bred by Benchmark, Points Offthebench has won 6 of 8 starts and $514,940.

Points Offthebench has won four consecutive races. He made his stakes debut in the Bing Crosby and is bound for the BC Sprint with a leading chance.