Hong Kong Harry and Ramon Vazquez winning the American Stakes
With an explosive turn of foot turning for home, diminutive Irish-bred Hong Kong Harry remained unbeaten in three stateside starts as he registered his first graded stakes win in taking Sunday’s Grade 3, $100,000 American Stakes by three quarters of a length at Santa Anita. The victory gave meet leading trainer Phil D’Amato his 16th stakes win and a Winter/Spring record 63rd overall victory at the Arcadia, Calif., track. Ridden by Ramon Vazquez, Hong Kong Harry got one mile on turf in 1:33.87.
At about 15 hands tall and in the words of his trainer, “900 pounds, soaking wet,” Hong Kong Harry shortened up out of a pair of mile and one eighth allowance wins on turf and got a perfect ground-saving ride under Vazquez.
Attentive to the pace while saving ground at the rail to the top of the lane. “Harry” sat fourth, about three lengths off longshot Kentucky Pharoah heading into the far turn, idled a bit five sixteenths out while awaiting room and pounced on a seam three from the rail at the top of the lane and kicked clear with his ears pinned in a terrific performance.
“I really loved where we were sitting the whole time,” said D’Amato, who incredibly, posted his 57th turf win of the meet, the majority of which came with Irish-breds. “I left it up to Ramon. I told him the horse is very versatile. He looked loaded the whole way, I was just hoping we would find a spot to get through and Ramon did a great job. (He) split them at the top of the lane and really sprinted home nice.
“He’s a horse that had always trained with a lot of ability. I just think gradually, just bringing him along in his conditions, just building up his confidence was the key. He’s got a huge heart this horse and hopefully, we can keep going up the ladder.”
A winner of four out of his seven starts at ages 3 and 4 in England, Hong Kong Harry was off as the 2-1 favorite Sunday in a field of 10 3-year-olds and up and paid $6.00, $4.20 and $3.20.
Owned by Scott Anastasi, Jimmy Ukegawa and Tony Valazza, Hong Kong Harry picked up $60,000 for the win, increasing his earnings to $185,097 and boosting his overall race record to 10-7-1-1.
Neil Drysdale’s Brazilian-bred Homer Screen moved into third position turning for home and rallied like a horse with considerable upside to be second by one length over Tarantino. Off at 28-1 with Drayden Van Dyke, Homer Screen paid $17.60 and $10.00.
Idle since a well beaten third in the opening day Mathis Brothers Mile on Dec. 26, Tarantino was second turning for home and finished three quarters of a length in front of Tripoli. Off at 22-1 with Juan Hernandez, Tarantino paid $12.00 to show.
Fractions on the race were 23.52, 47.05, 1:10.62 and 1:22.34.
Carded as the 11th and final race of the 2021-22 Winter/Spring Meet, the American was also the last lap in the 20 cent Rainbow Pick 6 Jackpot, which featured a carryover from Saturday of $330,680. With a mandatory payout and large fields in place, there was $3,864,927 in new money wagered today, for a total Rainbow 6 pool of $4,195,607.
There were 493 tickets with six winners, each worth $6,656.80.
Live racing resumes with opening day of the track’s 18-day Autumn Meet on Friday, Sept. 30. For additional information, please visit santaanita.com or call (626) 574-RACE.