It was conditions to order for trainer Michael McCarthy’s Friar’s Road in Sunday’s Grade 2, $225,000 San Marcos Stakes at Santa Anita in Arcadia, Calif. With a strong pace to run at, the 5-year-old horse by Quality Road did just that, as he wheeled three-deep turning for home and inhaled dueling leaders Bob and Jackie and Acclimate to register an emphatic 4 ¼-length win. Ridden by Flavien Prat, he got a mile and one quarter on turf in 1:58.67.
“I had been on him a few times in the morning and I was really happy with the way he was training,” said Prat, who hadn’t ridden Friar’s Road since finishing second on him in a maiden special weight on dirt at Oaklawn Park 10 starts back on May 2, 2020. “There was a strong pace today and he was there for me when it was time to make a move. The pace was key today. He’s a big horse with a long stride and you don’t want to take too much hold of him.”
Most recently second, beaten a nose in the Grade 3 San Gabriel Stakes which was switched to the dirt on Dec. 26, Friar’s Road, who was twice graded stakes placed on turf last year, was off as the even money favorite in a field of five older horses and paid $4.20, $3.00 and $2.20.
“It was fantastic, a great way to end the weekend,” said McCarthy, who chalked up his third stakes win of the meeting.
Owned by Mr. and Mrs. W.K. Warren, Friar’s Road, who is out of the Giant’s Causeway mare My Sugar Bear, notched his first stakes win and improved his overall mark to 13-3-4-2. With the winner’s share of $135,000, he increased his earnings to $346,500.
Ridden by Jose Valdivia, Jr., Bob and Jackie, who won the opening day San Gabriel in gate to wire fashion, was tasked with keeping speedy Acclimate honest on the early lead and tired to finish second, a head better than Say the Word. Off at 13-1, Bob and Jackie paid $9.80 and $4.40.
Say the Word, next to last after the first half mile, put in a mild bid to be third by a 1 ¼ lengths over Lincoln Hawk. Off at 2-1 with Umberto Rispoli, Say the Word paid $2.20 to show.
Fractions on the race were 22.69, 46.60, 1:11.09 and 1:34.98.