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Jan 18, 2008

El Gato Malo surges to victory in San Rafael Stakes


Arcadia, CA (Sports Network) - El Gato Malo, ridden by David Flores, came storming down the stretch Saturday to capture the $150,000 San Rafael Stakes at Santa Anita Park. The one-mile race is the first stakes for three-year-olds leading to the Santa Anita Derby on April 5.

El Gato Malo was sent off as the second choice in the six horse field. The 3-2 favorite was Massive Drama, with El Gato Malo 2-1 and Talk of a Cat at 5-2.

Setting the pace on the all-weather surface was Massive Drama followed closely by Talk of a Cat and Sierra Sunset. Breaking from the inside, El Gato Malo raced along the rail on the backstretch and began to advance on the turn for home as the leaders tired.

At the top of the stretch El Gato Malo moved to the outside and took the with a furlong to run. The gelding easily defeated his five rivals as he posted a 6 1/4 length victory.

"I saw there was going to be a lot of speed," said Flores, "but I didn't think there would be that much speed. It was like there were three bullets in there. I was patient and when I pushed the button he was there for me. They were coming back to me and my horse was full of run. I don't know how much he's got left, but he had plenty today."

Indian Sun came from last to finish second as Massive Drama held on for third. Rounding out the order of finish was Sierra Sunset, Talk of a Cat and Overbid. Spinning Sound was scratched from the race.

The time for the San Rafael was 1:33.37 on the synthetic Cushion Surface.

El Gato Malo is owned by West Point Thoroughbreds and trained Craig Dollase.

"From Day One, this horse has shown that he's got it in him," Dollase noted. "We'll probably stick with the program here. It's lovely here in California and the track's good, obviously. He's the real deal. It doesn't look like there are any distance limitations for him. He rated so nicely today. We didn't expect those fractions, but it set up nice for us. He could have gone around there again, I think. He's a special animal."

The win was worth $90,000 to bring the three-year-old's earnings to $160,200. He is perfect in three career starts, including the Gold Rush Stakes last month at Golden Gate Fields. Dollase expects to start the gelding next in the San Felipe Stakes on March 15.

El Gato Malo returned $6.80, $4.40 and $2.60. Indian Sun paid $6.20 and $3.00, and Massive Drama paid $2.20 to show.

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