ARCADIA, Calif. (AP) — Aotearoa rallied from last to beat 2-5 favorite Diamond Bachelor by three-quarters of a length in the $100,000 Zuma Beach Stakes for 2-year-olds at Santa Anita on Sunday.
With jockey Corey Nakatani subbing for Garrett Gomez, 13-1 shot Aotearoa ran a mile on the turf in 1:34.42 and paid $28.60, $7.60 and $4.60. Gomez missed his return flight from Keeneland, causing him to miss all six of his scheduled mounts.
“I rode his daddy (Grade 1 turf winner Good Journey) and I knew he’d love the grass,” Nakatani said. “On paper, there was a lot of speed in the race, I thought, top to bottom. My horse broke on the lead, but I was able to ease him back, no problem, and he ran a big race.”
Diamond Bachelor returned $2.40 and $2.10, while Got Shades was another 1 3/4 lengths back in third and paid $3.20 to show.
The victory, worth $60,000, increased Aotearoa’s career earnings to $114,000. It was his first start on the turf.
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