After losing in photo finishes in his two previous appearances in graded stakes at Santa Anita, Continental Red deserved to have his picture taken after Saturday's $250,000 San Luis Rey Handicap.
A nose loser to Irish Prize in the San Marcos on Jan. 21 and a neck behind Nazirali in the San Luis Obispo nearly four weeks later, the 6-year-old gelding and 5-2 second choice prevailed in a blanket finish with three longshots.
Trained by Ian Jory for owner-breeders Wes and Sharon Fitzpatrick and ridden by Pat Valenzuela, the son of Flying Continental beat Keemoon, the lone female in the Grade II and an 11-1 shot, by a nose. Speedy Pick, the longest shot in the field at 58-1 who set the pace, was a head back in third. Ringaskiddy, a 15-1 outsider, was fourth, another neck behind.
This was only the second win since the beginning of 2001 for Continental Red, but the California-bred had been earning a nice living. Besides the runner-up efforts in the San Marcos and San Luis Obispo, he had been second or third six times last year.
Said Jory: "I guess the San Juan Capistrano [at about 13/4 miles on April 21, Santa Anita's closing day] is the logical next spot. I don't think distance is a problem for him."
The disappointment of the San Luis Rey was Denon. The even-money favorite, he had no visible excuses as he checked in fifth under jockey Chris McCarron. All three of his victories, including his win in the Hollywood Derby last Nov. 25, have come on heavy or yielding grass courses and he has never won beyond 11/8 miles.
Beaten by three lengths by Wrangler in last month's General George Handicap at Laurel, Affirmed Success turned the tables in a big way Saturday at Aqueduct.
An 8-year-old gelding trained by Richard Schosberg for owner-breeder Albert Fried, Affirmed Success, the 2-1 second choice, captured the $108,200 Toboggan Handicap by two lengths over 9-1 shot Vodka.
Wrangler, the 4-5 favorite looking for his fourth win in a row, struggled home fourth in the field of six.
Ridden by Richard Migliore, Affirmed Success ran the seven furlongs in 1:22 4/5 in winning for the 14th time in 35 starts. He has now banked close to $1.9 million.
Ask Me No Secrets, the 9-5 second choice, led all the way under jockey Mike Smith to win the $200,000 Oaklawn Breeders' Cup by 41/2 lengths at Oaklawn Park.
Owned by Earl Shultz and trained by David Hofmans, the 4-year-old Seattle Slew filly completed the 1 1/16 miles in 1:44 2/5 for her third win in five starts. It was her first graded stakes win as she had been third in the La Canada Stakes on Feb. 9 at Santa Anita behind Summer Colony and recent Santa Margarita winner Azeri.
Although Denon flopped in the San Luis Rey, trainer Bobby Frankel did collect a stakes win when favored No Slip, under jockey Kent Desormeaux, won the $155,000 Golden Gate Breeders' Cup Handicap at Golden Gate Fields.