Big Kick led all the way in winning the $200,000 San Juan Capistrano Stakes by 2-3/4 lengths Sunday on closing day of Santa Anita’s first-ever spring meet.
Ridden by Victor Espinoza, Big Kick ran 1-3/4 miles on the turf in 2:46.78 and returned $11.60 on a $2 win bet.
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Quick Casablanca was second as the 3-5 favorite, and Starspangled Heat was another 9 3/4 lengths back in third.
Big Kick opened up a 10-length lead on the backstretch in his first stakes race.
”I wanted to let him run out of there,” Espinoza said. ”I wanted to let him do it and he was doing it comfortably. I wanted to open up two or three lengths and it was so easy so I let him stretch his legs even more. When we got to the three-eighths (pole), it was time to open it up as much as I could.”
The victory, worth $120,000, increased Big Kick’s career earnings to $254,631, with five wins in 19 starts.
Joe Talamo won the jockeys’ title with 43 victories over Tyler Baze, who had 31 wins. Talamo, a 24-year-old from Louisiana, had a leading nine stakes win during the 38-day meet.
Doug O’Neill won his fourth career Santa Anita trainers’ title, edging Peter Miller 27 wins to 23.