10/19/2013 7:32PM

Santa Anita: A Toast to You rewards gamble by springing California Flag surprise

Benoit & Associates
A Toast to You ends a 10-race losing streak by taking the California Flag Handicap under Mario Gutierrez.

ARCADIA, Calif. - The choices facing Gary and Cecil Barber, and trainer Peter Miller approaching the weekend were simple. Pick between a $25,000 claimer for the 4-year-old gelding A Toast to You or try the $101,250 California Flag Handicap at Santa Anita.

“We decided to take a shot,” Miller said. “I told [Gary], if we run second or third in the stakes, it’s a big payday.”

The decision led to a career-high payday.

A Toast to You ($39.80) rallied from off the pace to win the California Flag Handicap in an upset. Ridden by Mario Gutierrez, A Toast to You caught Ain’t No Other in the final strides to win by a half-length.

Tiz a Minister finished third in the field of 10, followed by Circa’sgoldengear, Luckarack, Starspangled Heat, Mobilized, Strong Wind, Atta Boy Pete, and Dixieland Blues.

A Toast to You ran about 6 1/2 furlongs on the hillside turf course in 1:11.88. The California Flag Handicap, restricted to California-breds, was the first stakes win for A Toast to You. By Tribal Rule, A Toast to You was third in the Sensational Star Stakes behind Ain’t No Other on the hillside turf course last February.

Miller praised Gutierrez’s patient ride. Gutierrez had A Toast to You in sixth on the hillside and fifth, trailing by 3 1/2 lengths with a furlong remaining.

“What a ride,” Miller said. “He saved ground, swung out, and got all the run he could.”

A Toast to You has won 6 of 20 starts and $352,872. The victory was the third of the day for Miller. For A Toast to You, the California Flag Handicap ended a 10-race losing streak dating back to Oct. 14, 2012. He was fifth in a $40,000 claimer on the hillside turf course on Oct. 5.