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Mar 08, 2008

Santa Anita Handicap goes to Heatseeker


Arcadia, CA (Sports Network) - Heatseeker, ridden by Rafael Bejarano, held off a late running Go Between to capture Saturday"s 71st running of the $1 million Santa Anita Handicap. The time for the 1 1/4 miles was 2:00.42.

Strub Stakes winner Monterey Jazz took the lead shortly after the start and proceeded to open a seven length lead on the field entering the backstretch. Running second was Air Commander followed by Student Council and Heatseeker in the 14 horse field.

Around the final turn Monterey Jazz, under jockey Russell Baze, began to tire but still had the lead coming off the turn. Heatseeker found running room down the middle of the track as Go Between and rider Garrett Gomez began their run.

Heatseeker took the lead with a furlong to go as Go Between cut into his margin. At the wire, Heatseeker prevailed by a neck over the late running Go Between with Champs Elysees finishing third.

"I was in great position all the way", said Bejarano.

Rounding out the order of finish for the Big "Cap was Tiago, Zappa, Student Council, Awesome Gem, Great Hunter, Air Commander, Big Booster, Seminole Native, Monterey Jazz, Medici Code and Celtic Dreamin.

Heatseeker is the first horse other than Lava Man to win the Big "Cap in three years. Owned by William Deburgh, Heatseeker collects $600,000 with the victory and now has $927,776 in earnings. He has won six of 15 lifetime starts, including the Native Diver at Hollywood Park last December.

Jerry Hollendorfer trains the five-year-old who was second last month in the San Antonio Handicap to Well Armed. In January of this year he was third to Zappa in the San Pasqual Handicap.

Heatseeker returned $16.00, $7.00 and $4.80. Go Between paid $7.00 and $5.20, Champs Elysees paid $7.80 to show.

Lava Man, winner of the Santa Anita Handicap in 2006 and 2007, is nearing his first workout at his Hollywood Park headquarters after several months off.

"He"s doing great," said Dennis O"Neill, brother and associate of trainer Doug O"Neill. "I think he"s scheduled to work in about two weeks, but he"s doing absolutely fantastic. His weight is good and his coat looks really good."

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