INGLEWOOD, Calif -- Jockey Martin Pedroza's 1,000th career win at Hollywood Park came with his most lucrative mount of the spring-summer meeting aboard E Z's Gentlemen in Saturday's $250,000 Triple Bend Handicap.
Pedroza, who was beaming with pride as he led the 5-year-old into the winner's circle, gave E Z's Gentlemen a perfect trip. Stalking pacesetter M One Rifle through an early pace of 22.82 and 45.03 seconds, Pedroza guided E Z's Gentlemen along the rail on the turn, and turned a one-length lead in the stretch to 3 1/4 lengths at the finish.
"I'm sweating so much because this is like winning the Santa Anita Handicap or six races in a day," he said. "To get my 1,000th win here in a Grade 1, it means a lot to me."
For Pedroza, 44, the Triple Bend was his first win in a Grade 1 since Star Parade won the 2006 Santa Maria Handicap at Santa Anita.
E Z's Gentlemen ($9.80) ran seven furlongs in 1:21.11, and was part of a sweep of the first two positions by trainer Bob Baffert. Sangaree, who finished second to Rail Trip in the Mervyn LeRoy Handicap and Californian Stakes earlier at this meeting, closed from sixth to finish second, a length in front of Gayego, the 3-2 favorite. M One Rifle faded to finish fourth in the field of seven.
Gayego, who was fourth in the Breeders Cup Sprint at Santa Anita last November, made his first start in the Triple Bend since finishing eighth in the $2 million Golden Shaheen Sprint in Dubai in March.
"We were disappointed," trainer Saeed bin Suroor said."He will improve a lot from this race. We'll take him to Saratoga and find a race for him there."
E Z's Gentlemen races for Arnold Zetcher, and won his first stakes in the Triple Bend. Earlier this year, E Z's Gentlemen was third in the Grade 2 Potrero Grande Handicap at Santa Anita and second in the Grade 3 Los Angeles Handicap here. At Churchill Downs on May 1, E Z's Gentlemen won an allowance race over seven furlongs, the race after the Kentucky Derby.
By Yankee Gentlemen, E Z's Gentlemen has won 4 of 15 starts and $299,711. Zetcher said the $300,000 Pat O Brien Stakes over seven furlongs at Del Mar on Aug. 28 is likely to be E Z's Gentlemen's next start.