Reddam Racing's Bond Holder rallied to catch Dance With Fate and drew away to a 2 1/4-length victory in Saturday's Grade 1, $250,000 FrontRunner at Santa Anita, earning his first win in his fifth career start. Mario Gutierrez rode the Doug O'Neill-trained son of Mineshaft who is now headed to the Breeders' Cup Juvenile.
Can the Man broke on top but Test Ride sprinted forward from his outside post and showed the way into the first turn, completing the opening quarter-mile in :22 2/5 on a short lead. Can the Man advanced forward to put pressure on the pacesetter entering the backstretch and was only a head back after a half-mile in :46 3/5, with Dance With Fate and Ontology also up close stalking the early action.
Bond Holder angled toward the inside from post 9 after the break and raced toward the back of the 10-horse field. He came out entering the far turn and began picking off rivals, reaching third by the top of the stretch.
Can the Man surged to the lead on the far turn, completing six furlongs in 1:11 3/5 with a one-length edge, but gave way to Dance With Fate entering the stretch drive. Bond Holder was also rapidly advancing into contention on the far outside.
Dance With Fate reached the mile mark in 1:38 1/5 with a half-length advantage, but proved no match for his fast-closing rival as Bond Holder powered by late.
"This race set up great for my horse because he likes to come from behind," Gutierrez said. "He seemed to like the distance today and I think that played a major part in his win."
Bond Holder completed 1 1/16 miles in 1:45 and paid $23.80 to win as the 10-1 sixth choice in the wagering.
Dance With Fate, the 2-1 favorite, held second by two lengths over Tamarando, who broke slowly and came flying late to be third as the 7-2 third choice. It was another three parts of a length to 2-1 second choice Can the Man, who was followed under the wire by Flat Gone, Test Ride, Better Bet, Ontology, Even Echo and Roundupthelute. Schoolofhardrocks was scratched.
Out of the multiple stakes-winning mare Cielo Girl, a daughter of Conquistador Cielo, Bond Holder sold initially for $90,000 as a 2012 Keeneland September yearling before bringing $125,000 at the OBS March two-year-old sale.
The bay colt finished fifth when making his career debut in the July 13 Hollywood Juvenile Championship and followed it with a pair of thirds against maiden special weight rivals at Del Mar. Bond Holder stretched out to two turns for the first time on August 31, closing late for second behind the well-regarded New Year's Day in a one-mile maiden special weight event on Polytrack.
He's now earned $186,000 from a 5-1-1-2 mark.
"We thought this horse would improve on dirt and with distance," J. Paul Reddam said.
"I don't think the dirt made much of a difference because he runs everywhere; it was the distance that was the biggest factor," Gutierrez added.
Reddam has enjoyed success in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, winning with the Jeremy Noseda-trained Wilko in 2004. He's also finished second twice with He's Had Enough (2012) and Square Eddie (2008), and third with Great Hunter (2006), all trained by O'Neill. And O'Neill captured the 2005 edition with champion two-year-old Stevie Wonderboy.
"We had great expectations for this horse even though he was a maiden," assistant trainer Leandro Mora said. "He ran a huge race at Del Mar (in his last start) and we knew we had a legitimate horse.
"Mario (Gutierrez) has ridden the horse every time but we told him just to let the horse alone and let him do his thing the last quarter of a mile. That's the way this horse likes to run; the last quarter of a mile."