Call T.H. Approval a closing-day specialist.
Nearly three months after winning the San Juan Capistrano, the last stakes race of Santa Anita's winter-spring meet, T.H. Approval made off with the $150,000 Sunset Breeders' Cup Handicap on Sunday, the main event on Hollywood Park's final day.
Becoming the first horse since Marlin in 1997 to win the San Juan and Sunset, T.H. Approval, the 13-10 favorite, rallied from well off the pace to beat Molengao and seven others in the Grade II.
The win was the fourth in nine starts in Inglewood for the 5-year-old With Approval horse, who is owned by breeder Tadahiro Hotehama and trainer Eduardo Inda. Ridden by Alex Solis, T.H. Approval, who has six victories in 24 lifetime starts, ran the 1 1/2 miles on turf in 2:26.65 and won by 1 1/2 lengths.
"My horse was really the classiest one in the field and he proved it today," Solis said. "I just sat back on him and he came running real strong when I asked him to start going at the half-mile pole. He took the lead with an eighth of a mile to go and it was pretty much over after that."
Wild Buddy, who had a six-length lead after a mile, finished third, beating Leprechaun Kind, the 7-2 second choice, by a head.
In his first race since he won the Santa Catalina on March 5, 2005, at Santa Anita, Declan's Moon was beaten for the first time in his career in the opener at Hollywood Park.
The 2-year-old champion of 2004, a 2-5 favorite against only three foes, lost by a nose to 5-1 shot Desert Boom, who rallied from last to score under apprentice Juan Ochoa. The final time for the 6 1/2 furlongs in the $63,800 optional claimer was 1:15.89.
Ron Ellis, who trains the Maryland-bred horse for owners Mace and Samantha Siegel's Jay Em Ess Stable, was not discouraged by the effort.
"I'm disappointed we didn't win the race, but I thought it was a good first race back," he said. "Sixteen months is a long time. It wouldn't be good for him to run his best race now anyway. He should move forward off that. He didn't disappoint me at all."
The winner of the Del Mar and Hollywood Futurities as a juvenile, Declan's Moon, who has now won five of six, probably will make his next start in the $300,000 Pat O'Brien Breeders' Cup Handicap at seven furlongs Aug. 20 at Del Mar.
Although on-track attendance was down approximately 16% from the preceding year, Hollywood Park did have a slight increase in daily average handle during the spring-summer meet that concluded Sunday.
Buoyed by larger fields -- an average of 8.1 starters -- than in recent years, Hollywood Park had a daily average handle of $10.4 million, up 1% from 2005. Despite the drop in attendance, on-track handle only declined about 3% from last year.
With the end of the season, Hollywood Park will begin installation of a synthetic surface, known as Cushion Track and a six-furlong chute will be added on the turf course.
Silver Train, the 4-5 favorite, won for the fifth time in seven starts at Belmont Park, beating stubborn War Front by a neck to take the $150,000 Tom Fool Handicap.
Edgar Prado rode the 4-year-old Old Trieste colt for Four Roses Thoroughbreds and trainer Rick Dutrow Jr.
Fleet Indian, the 2-5 favorite, won for the sixth time in a row, cruising to a 5 1/2 -length victory in the $1-million Delaware Handicap, a Grade II, at Delaware Park.
Jose Santos rode the 5-year-old Indian Charlie mare owned by Paul Saylor and trained by Todd Pletcher to her 11th win in 15 tries.
Earlier at Delaware Park, 6-1 shot Fishy Advice won the $200,000 Caesar Rodney and 4-1 shot Awfully Smart won the $300,000 Leonard Richards.