ARCADIA, Calif. -- The Pamplemousse got a gift Saturday in the Grade 3, $100,000 San Rafael Stakes at Santa Anita, and he was not about to give it back. He had the lead ceded to him when Brother Keith bore out badly on the first turn, and from that point on, The Pamplemousse never looked back. He held safe odds-on favorite Square Eddie to win the first two-turn graded stakes of the year for 3-year-olds pointing to the Santa Anita Derby and then the Kentucky Derby.
The Pamplemousse ($7.20), under Alex Solis, beat Square Eddie by two lengths, with Irish invader Ryehill Dreamer another 2 3/4 lengths back in third. Brother Keith, who dropped back to last after his midadventure on the first turn, was able to catch a tiring Fiddlers Afleet to finish fourth in the five-horse field.
Charlie's Moment, Feisty Suances, and Papa Clem all were scratched.
The Pamplemousse completed one mile on Pro-Ride in 1:35.31 after setting fractions of 23.04 seconds, 45.97, and 1:10.07 through the first six furlongs. A colt by Kafwain, The Pamplemousse won for the second time in four starts. He lost twice sprinting, then defeated maidens at Hollywood Park on Dec. 14 going 1 1/16 miles.
Julio Canani trains The Pamplemousse for a partnership that includes Jeffrey and Bill Strauss, the brothers who operate the popular Pamplemousse Grille adjacent to Del Mar racetrack.
Santa Ynez: Alpha Kitten rebounds
Alpha Kitten rebounded from a dull fourth in the Grade 1 Hollywood Starlet last month to win her first stakes in Saturday's $150,000 Santa Ynez Stakes at Santa Anita.
Jockey Tyler Baze guided Alpha Kitten to a comfortable win over stablemate Evita Argentina. Alpha Kitten ($5) ran seven furlongs in 1:21.84, winning by 1 1/2 lengths. Nan, a 19-1 outsider, finished third in the field of seven 3-year-old fillies.
Baze had Alpha Kitten in fifth on the backstretch, stalking Candelijas, who set early fractions of 23.51 and 46.31 seconds. Alpha Kitten advanced to third on the turn, in pursuit of Candelijas and Empressive Lady.
Through the final furlong, Alpha Kitten caught the eye, quickly pulling away by two lengths. Evita Argentina, winner of the Moccasin Stakes at Hollywood Park in November, was the only filly to pose any threat in the stretch.
The first two finishers are trained by John Sadler. Owned by breeders Jerry and Ann Moss, Alpha Kitten has won 2 of 4 starts and $162,870. She finished second in her stakes debut in the Anoakia Stakes at Santa Anita in October but was beaten 5 1/2 lengths by Laragh in the Starlet.
Alpha Kitten is likely to return in the Grade 1 Las Virgenes Stakes on Feb.7 or the Grade 1 Santa Anita Oaks on March 7.
- Steve Andersen