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Creative Cause makes a statement in Norfolk Stakes

Trainer Mike Harrington's colt looks like Kentucky Derby contender. Jockey Joel Rosario wins three of four Grade I stakes at Santa Anita.

October 01, 2011|Eric Sondheimer

The Breeders' Cup is a year away from returning to Santa Anita, but four Grade I stakes worth $250,000 each and filled with some of the classiest horses in America made Saturday's 11-race program almost a dress rehearsal for 2012.

When the dust had settled, the West Coast had found its top contender for next year's Kentucky Derby in Creative Cause, a 2-year-old son of Giant's Causeway who ran away from 3-5 favorite Drill to win the 1 1/16-mile Norfolk Stakes by 3 1/4 lengths under jockey Joel Rosario. Rosario won three of the four Grade I races.

Next up is the Breeders' Cup Juvenile on Nov. 5 at Churchill Downs.

Feisty 70-year-old trainer Mike Harrington was so excited that he started using vocabulary reserved for a teenager.

"He's an awesome horse," Harrington said.

Creative Cause could be this year's Uncle Mo, who won an Eclipse Award as the top 2-year-old in 2010.

Creative Cause's only loss in four starts came when he finished third to Drill in the Del Mar Futurity at seven furlongs Sept. 7, then was moved up to second because of a bumping incident.

"If he hadn't have been knocked around there, he'd have won then too," Harrington said.

The 1 1/16-mile Lady's Secret Stakes produced the biggest surprise of the afternoon. Blind Luck, the 2010 champion 3-year-old filly, finished last in the field of seven, the first time in 22 career starts she has run out of the money. She was 19 lengths behind the winner, Zazu, who defeated Ultra Blend by a half length under Rosario.

Blind Luck's trainer, Jerry Hollendorfer, said, "No," when asked if he knew what went wrong. Jockey Garrett Gomez said, "I couldn't keep up. That's pretty much it."

Blind Luck is expected to undergo tests to see if there was a physical issue to explain her poor performance.

It was the fourth consecutive year a horse owned by Jerry and Ann Moss won the Lady's Secret. Their champion mare Zenyatta won the previous three runnings.

Game On Dude and jockey Chantal Sutherland scored a half-length win over fast-closing Awesome Gem in the 1 1/8-mile Goodwood Stakes. It was an impressive performance considering Game On Dude engaged in an early speed duel with Tres Borrachos. Next up is the Breeders' Cup Classic.

"He likes to get it out there and go," trainer Bob Baffert said. "I told Chantal to have the lead at all costs."

In the 1 1/4-mile Yellow Ribbon Stakes on the turf, Dubawi Heights and Rosario won by three-quarters of a length over Cozi Rosie.

eric.sondheimer@latimes.com

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