Californian Stakes 2023: Defunded last to first

Chalk players had an easy ride at Santa Anita on Saturday, with 1-5 favourite Defunded making an enforced change of tactics look straightforward in the headline G2 Californian Stakes 2023, and 4-5 shot Brickyard Ride doing what he does best when going gate-to-wire to record back-to-back victories in the G3 Kona Gold, his 13th win at the Los Angeles track.

Californian Stakes

G2, $200,000, 1m 1f dirt, 4yo+

Defunded romps after a scare: So you can teach an old horse new tricks. Defunded showed that every day is a schoolday when coming from off the pace to take the Californian at Santa Anita on Saturday, wrapping up over Royal Ship and Midnight Mammoth with the minimum of fuss.

Defunded is a habitual front-runner, but the 1-5 favourite blew the break and was last of the six runners through the three-quarter pole. Juan Hernandez didn’t panic, brought Defunded wide to challenge at the top of the lane, and he ran down the leaders in style, drawing off to beat the one-paced Royal Ship by three lengths, with the front-running Midnight Mammoth a length further back.

Californian Stakes Race Video


Favorite Defunded takes the 2023 Californian Stakes #Horseracing #Horseracingtips #Horsesoftiktok #Horses #Horse #FYP #Sports

♬ original sound – horseracingtote – horseracingtote

“He was standing perfectly, and when the gates opened, he stepped back,” said trainer Bob Baffert, signing for his fourth victory in the Californian. “He’s always been a bit of a headcase.”

He’s a good headcase to have in the barn, though, this being Defunded’s third win at Graded-stakes level for a six-for-16 resume. His next move may be the G1 Hollywood Gold Cup back at Santa Anita on May 29, in which he was runner-up last year.

Californian Stakes 2023 Payouts

1. Defunded2.402.102.10
2. Royal Ship 3.002.20
3. Midnight Mammoth  3.20

Winning time: 1m 48.91s

Kona Gold Stakes

G3, $100,000, 6 1/2f dirt, 4yo+

Ride takes them all the way: One front-runner who didn’t drop the ball was Brickyard Ride, who rolled gate-to-wire for back-to-back wins in the Kona Gold, putting away Anarchist and Positivity to record his 13th victory at Santa Anita, eight of them in stakes – he’s never won anywhere else.

This was his first score since last year’s race, and it was accomplished in the usual way. The 4-5 favourite broke on top under Juan Hernandez – who had a good day in stakes – and that was the ballgame. He opened up around the turn and was always doing enough through the stretch, comfortably turning back the rally of Anarchist by a half-length, with Positivity four and a half lengths further back in third.

Kona Gold Stakes Race Video


Brickyard Ride went wire-to-wire in the 2023 Kona Gold Stakes #Horseracing #Horseracingtips #Horsesoftiktok #Horses #Horse #FYP #Sports

♬ original sound – horseracingtote – horseracingtote

“He’s a fast dude, really fast,” said trainer Craig Lewis. “That half-mile was pretty rapid [43.92s] and he’s just a wonderful horse.”

Brickyard Ride missed the second half of 2022 with a bone chip in his ankle, but has clearly returned as sharp as before and will be back at his beloved Santa Anita at the end of next month for the G2 Triple Bend over seven furlongs.

Kona Gold Stakes Payouts

1. Brickyard Ride3.602.402.10
2. Anarchist 2.402.10
3. Positivity  3.00

Winning time: 1m 15.84s

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