Bluesthestandard Speeds to Texas Mile Victory

(April 26,2003)- Rags to riches Bluesthestandard became a multiple graded stakes winner Saturday with an authoritative four-length score over Bonapaw in the Grade III, $300,000 Texas Mile at Lone Star Park in Grand Prairie, Texas. The hard-trying California invader won his fifth race in a row and second consecutive stakes race, following a two-length victory in the Grade II Potrero Grande Breeders’ Cup Handicap last month at Santa Anita.

“He’s such an intelligent horse and such a competitor,” trainer Ted West Jr. said. “He just thinks he’s supposed to win. He doesn’t care who he runs against - Kona Gold, Bonapaw or all of these horses today - he just thinks he’s that much better than them.”

Bluesthestandard, who improved his record to 14 wins in 21 starts, pulled away in the stretch from a tightly packed bunch that simply couldn’t keep up. Bonapaw surprised everyone by settling off the early pace, then finishing strong to nab second. Pacesetter Compendium finished third by a neck, a half-length ahead of his Steve Asmussen-trained stablemate Private Emblem in fourth.

The final time of 1:35.68 was the fastest one-mile of the Lone Star Park season so far. The impressive effort validated the heavy support of the betting public, who made Bluesthestandard the 3-2 favorite.

“I think he knows how to do his job pretty well,” West said.

The victorious connections fretted the past two days about drawing post No. 9 for the one-mile race, a spot that often leaves horses hung out wide or dropped too far back into the first turn. But Martin Pedroza, who traveled from his Southern California base to ride, hustled Bluesthestandard out of the gate and had the 6-year-old in perfect position from the start.

“I really expected Bonapaw to be in front and I would lay second,” Pedroza said.

Bluesthestandard easily cleared the horses to his immediate inside and angled down towards the rail. Pedroza and his mount sat chilly behind Compendium, who was fortunate to find himself alone without the expected pressure from the usually speedy Bonapaw, winner of last fall’s Grade I Vosburgh Stakes at Belmont Park. The opening quarter-mile went in :23.93, followed up by a half-mile time of :47.09.

“Nobody pressured me on the backside making me go faster,” Pedroza said.
Nearing the quarter pole, Bluesthestandard ranged up outside the leader and it was clear that it would take a monster effort to challenge the public’s betting choice.

“I never had to get after him at all,” Pedroza said. “I knew what would happen when it was time to go. When I picked up the reigns, he just opened up on the field. I just tapped him (on the neck) and hand-rode him down to the wire.”

Those who supported Bluesthestandard at the mutuel windows got back $5 on each $2 win bet. The 6-year-old Georgia-bred gelding became the first Texas Mile favorite to win in seven runnings of the race.

The race for place was wide-open down the stretch. Bonapaw ran a smart race to finish second while displaying a new dimension that should serve him well in the future.

“We were thrilled to see him relax for the first time,” said jockey Gerard Melancon, who was reunited with Bonapaw for the first time since a 22-race stint together ended in November. “He’s been speed crazy since he was a 2-year-old. Now, at seven, I think he’s really starting to realize what we need him to do. He finished well for me.”

Compendium, who showed considerable heart to finish third, did not fade so much as he was just outrun by Bluesthestandard and Bonapaw.

“My horse is very fast and Steve [Asmussen] just told me to try to get him to run the best mile he could run and not to worry about Bonapaw,” said Casey Lambert, who guided the 5-year-old to his second straight third-place finish in the Texas Mile. “At the top of the stretch, my horse tried to go with [Bluesthestandard], but he just kicked right away.”

Closing gradually up the rail for fourth was another Asmussen trainee, Private Emblem, the second wagering choice. Last year’s Arkansas Derby winner was compromised by the moderate pace.

“I think the race set up for Compendium and not for Private Emblem,” Asmussen said. “There wasn’t near as much pace as I though there would be. Private Emblem was fourth, but probably beat just a half-length or three-quarters for second. The winner was much the best.”

Maysville Slew closed from last with a rush down the stretch to get fifth. He was the only one of several anticipated closers to finish with a significant kick, but not enough to catch the early leaders.

The order of finish was completed by Dynameaux, who ran evenly without ever threatening, Seainsky, who likewise lacked much oomph, Oak Hall, well-placed in third around the second turn but empty in the stretch, and defending race champion Unrullah Bull, still winless since upsetting in the 2002 Texas Mile.

“We just didn’t have it today,” jockey Jaime Theriot said of Unrullah Bull. “He just ain’t that kind of horse anymore.”

Bluesthestandard’s $170,000 winner’s share of the purse raised his career earnings to $490,410. Owner Jeffrey Sengara, a lumberman based in Vancouver, British Columbia, was elated with the win.

“It was just spectacular,” Sengara said. “We were so worried with such a strong group of horses and drawing the outside. This guy just never leaves any doubt. He’s just an amazing horse and we’re so blessed to have him.”

Sengara also said he would love to return for the Grade III Lone Star Park Handicap on Memorial Day, May 26. The 1 1/16-miles event, worth another $300,000, is also likely for Private Emblem and Maysville Slew, according to their trainers.

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