ARCADIA, Calif. (AP) _ Old Topper returned to racing with a 3 1/2-length victory over Son’s Corona in Sunday’s $80,550 San Pedro Stakes at Santa Anita.
Grand Slam, the wagering favorite who was injured in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile last November, finished last, beaten by nearly 15 lengths, in his comeback.
Ridden by 51-year-old Laffit Pincay and trained by 87-year-old Noble Threewitt, Old Topper covered 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:17 and paid $10, $4.60 and $3.40.
Son’s Corona returned $5.80 and $4.20, while Search Me was another two lengths back in third and returned $5.40 to show.
Old Topper had been idle since injuring his shins in the Norfolk Stakes last October at Santa Anita.
``Once we got to the stretch, I knew he was going to be tough to beat because he accelerated very powerfully. It was an easy win,″ said Pincay, who won his 8,595th career race, leaving him 238 short of Bill Shoemaker’s record.
Grand Slam had been trainer D. Wayne Lukas’ leading 2-year-old last year, but he gashed his left hind leg in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and required surgery.
Under David Flores, Grand Slam trailed pacesetter F J’s Pace as the field ran down the backstretch. Search Me took the lead nearing the turn, while Old Topper began his rally from fifth in the field of six. He overtook Search Me at the eighth pole and steadily widened his lead.
``At the three-eighths pole, when the other two horses went and I tried to go with them, he just didn’t have it,″ Flores said of Grand Slam. ``I guess he just got tired and probably needed the race.″
Old Topper’s victory was his third in eight starts. He won $48,330, increasing his career earnings to $218,435.