By Steve Andersen for drf.com
ARCADIA, Calif. - Call it the Bourbon Bay slam. Monday, Bourbon Bay won his fourth turf stakes in the last year at Santa Anita in the $150,000 San Marcos Stakes over 1 1/4 miles on turf. In 2010, Bourbon Bay won three consecutive Grade 2 stakes from February to April – the San Luis Obispo, San Luis Rey and San Juan Capistrano handicaps.
The Grade 2 San Marcos on Monday was Bourbon Bay’s second race since the San Juan Capistrano last April, suggesting that the 5-year-old gelding is back in peak form.
Ridden by Rafael Bejarano, Bourbon Bay ($7.80) stalked the pace in third for the first mile, challenged 8-5 favorite Champ Pegasus in early stretch and ran past that horse in the final furlong to win by 1 3/4 lengths in 2:00.03
“I was pretty comfortable the whole way and I was in a great position,” Bejarano said. “As soon as I got the opportunity, I tried to get the first jump in the stretch and just let my horse go.”
Bourbon Bay is unbeaten in five starts on Santa Anita’s turf course, beginning with an optional claimer in January 2010. Owned by David and Jill Heerensperger, Bourbon Bay, by Sligo Bay, has won 6 of 15 starts and $509,424.
“He was really well-placed," trainer Neil Drysdale said. “He runs well on this course.”
Champ Pegasus, second in the Breeders’ Cup Turf at Churchill Downs in November, held second, finishing 1 1/4 lengths in front of Sebastian Flyte in the field of 11.
Champ Pegasus tracked pacesetter Marlang, who is trained by Drysdale, through early fractions of 23.91 and 47.81 seconds and led by a length in the stretch before being caught by Bourbon Bay.
“He’d been feeling pretty fresh,” trainer Richard Mandella said of Champ Pegasus. “He just came up a little short.
A rematch between Bourbon Bay and Champ Pegasus looms in the $150,000 San Luis Obispo Handicap over 1 1/2 miles on turf on Feb. 19, Drysdale and Mandella said.
In that race, Bourbon Bay will be out to defend his title and add to his remarkable record on Santa Anita turf.
Bourbon Bay was sold by Denali at the Keeneland September yearling sale for his breeder Adena Springs.