ARCADIA (AP) — California Flag defeated Excessive Passion by a half-length on Monday to win the $100,000 Morvich Stakes for the third time at Santa Anita.
Ridden by Patrick Valenzuela, California Flag ran 6 1/2 furlongs on the turf in 1:11.91 and paid $15.40, $9.80 and $6 as the 6-1 third choice.
Excessive Passion returned $14.40 and $9.20, while Ain’t No Other was another half-length back in third and paid $4.60 to show.
It was California Flag’s first victory since August 2010 at Del Mar. The 7-year-old gelding had won the Morvich in 2008 and ’09, and he now has four wins in six races on Santa Anita’s turf course.
Trainer Brian Koriner had said that if California Flag didn’t run well he would likely be retired. Afterward, he was noncommittal about whether the gelding would run in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint that he won in 2009.
“We’ll talk about it. We didn’t know what to expect,” Koriner said.
“He’s a nice old horse. It’s just nice to see him back and people can quit criticizing (for running him at seven).”
The victory, worth $60,000, increased California Flag’s career earnings to $1,219,825, with 10 wins in 24 starts.
Another Breeders’ Cup prospect emerged Monday when Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert’s Secret Circle won the $71,340 Jack Goodman Stakes by 5 1/4 lengths while running six furlongs in 1:08.27 under Rafael Bejarano.
“I’m sort of half-shocked the way he ran,” Baffert said. “He doesn’t show that in the mornings. It’s amazing. That’s a fast horse.”
Baffert’s immediate goal is next month’s $500,000 Sprint at Churchill Downs, a new race on the Breeders’ Cup card.
Secret Circle paid $3.20, $2.40 and $2.10. Galex returned $8.20 and $2.10, while Panettone was another neck back in third and paid $3.60 to show.
Secret Circle earned $41,190, giving him a career total of $78,990 in two races.