02/08/2014 7:22PM

Santa Anita: Vagabond Shoes finds distance of San Marcos ideal

Benoit & Associates
Vagabond Shoes rallies from eighth under Victor Espinoza to win the San Marcos Stakes by 1 1/4 lengths.

ARCADIA, Calif.- Vagabond Shoes began his 2013 campaign with a ninth in the Grade 2 Arcadia Stakes at Santa Anita, his first career start in the United States.

Trainer John Sadler entered Vagabond Shoes for the 2014 Arcadia last weekend, only to scratch in favor of Saturday’s $201,500 San Marcos Stakes. The decision led to the second American stakes win for Vagabond Shoes.

Ridden by Victor Espinoza, Vagabond Shoes ($7.40) closed from eighth in a field of 11 to win the Grade 2 San Marcos Stakes by 1 1/4 lengths over 19-1 Si Sage. Lucayan, the winner of the Grade 2 Hollywood Turf Cup in December, finished third.

The San Marcos over 1 1/4 miles on turf was the first start for Vagabond Shoes since he finished fifth in the Breeders’ Cup Turf over 1 1/2 miles on turf here in November. Sadler said he was swayed by the distance of the San Marcos in deciding which stakes race to try.

 “He ran a good race in the Breeders’ Cup,” Sadler said. “This looked like it was his comfort zone.”

Vagabond Shoes ran accordingly. Breaking from post 2, Espinoza had Vagabond Shoes well off the pace, and off the rail, for the first mile. Vagabond Shoes ran wide through the stretch to reach the front in the final sixteenth.

“Victor made a decision not to get trapped on the inside,” Sadler said. “We thought we might have to lose some ground, but we’d be in the clear. We were a little worried about getting bogged down from post 2.”

Sent off favored, Vagabond Shoes was timed in 1:58.88.

Segway finished fourth, but was disqualified and placed 10th for causing interference in the stretch that forced jockey Edwin Maldonado to take up Power Foot in the final strides. Segway and Power Foot are trained by Richard Mandella.

As a result of the disqualification, Dubai You X Y Z was placed fourth, followed by Jeranimo, Slim Shadey, Temeraine, Utopian, Power Foot, Segway, and Bio Pro.

Si Sage finished in a dead-heat for third in the Grade 2 Sir Beaufort Stakes over a mile on turf for 3-year-olds on Dec. 26. The San Marcos was his first start over 1 1/4 miles.

“I didn’t know if he could go a mile and a quarter,” trainer Darrell Vienna said. “It opens up opportunities.”

Jeranimo was beaten 2 3/4 lengths as the 7-2 second choice. Jeranimo won the Grade 2 San Gabriel Stakes over 1 1/8 miles on turf on Jan. 4, his third consecutive win in that race. Jeranimo is winless in four career starts over 1 1/4 miles.

“Maybe 1 1/4 miles isn’t within his scope after all,” trainer Mike Pender said.

Vagabond Shoes is a 7-year-old Irish-bred gelding who races for Hronis Racing. By Beat Hollow, Vagabond Shoes has won 8 of 29 starts and earned $665,497. Last summer, Vagabond Shoes won the Grade 2 Del Mar Handicap over 1 3/8 miles on turf. In the BC Turf, Vagabond Shoes was beaten 2 1/4 lengths by the Irish invader Magician.