02/11/2012 8:11PM

Santa Anita: Slim Shadey steals away in San Marcos

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ARCADIA, Calif. - Left alone on the lead, Slim Shadey proved too tough to catch in Saturday’s $150,000 San Marcos Stakes at Santa Anita.

In his American stakes debut, Slim Shadey ($25.20) held off a late threat from 13-1 Utopian to win the Grade 2 San Marcos by a head, finishing 1 1/4 miles on turf in 2:01.55. The San Marcos was the first stakes win for the 4-year-old Slim Shadey, who races for Phil Cunningham and trainer Simon Callaghan.

Norvsky, the winner of the Grade 2 San Gabriel Stakes here in January, finished third, followed by defending champion Bourbon Bay, Ashtar, and Sanagas, the 4-5 favorite.

The Grade 2 San Marcos Stakes was Sanagas’s first start for trainer Peter Miller since the 6-year-old gelding was acquired privately by a partnership last fall. Sanagas won the Grade 1 Hollywood Turf Cup over 1 1/2 miles in November for then-trainer Graham Motion.

In the San Marcos, Sanagas was second to Slim Shadey on the backstretch and around the turn but faded to finish 2 3/4 lengths behind the winner.

“They just quickened away from him,” Miller said. “It was too short for him. He’s a grinder.”

Slim Shadey won his second consecutive race over 1 1/4 miles on turf in the San Marcos, preceded by an optional claimer on turf on Jan. 12. With only six runners in the San Marcos, Callaghan and jockey David Flores decided to set the pace with Slim Shadey.

“I made up my mind to go,” Flores said. “The horse responded beautifully in the stretch.”

Slim Shadey led by 2 1/2 lengths at the eighth pole, and prevailed in a desperate finish. “I knew my horse was first,” Flores said.

A British-bred by Val Royal, Slim Shadey has won 3 of 16 starts and $212,038. He joined Callaghan’s stable in California last fall, having been trained in England by Stan Moore. In England, Slim Shadey was stakes-placed at 2, and was fourth behind the unbeaten Frankel in the Group 1 English 2000 Guineas last April.