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BACK ON TRACK: REDONE SURFACE WHAT DOC ORDERED HORSE RACING: BEJARANO RIDERS GOLDEN DOE A TO VICTORY IN LAS VIRGENES STAKES.

Byline: Art Wilson

Staff Writer

ARCADIA -- Winning times returned to normal Saturday when Santa Anita unveiled its new renovated artificial surface with a stakes tripleheader, highlighted by Golden Doc A's victory in the $250,000 Las Virgenes Stakes for 3-year-old fillies.

Gone was Cushion Track and the abnormally fast times that have left clockers scratching their heads and prompted some jockeys and trainers to compare the surface to the 605 Freeway during an 85-day winter-spring meet that had seen 11 cancellations in its first 32 days.

Track president Ron Charles said management has not determined what it will call the new all-weather track, which was reformulated with polymer binders and fibers from the Australian-based synthetic-track company Pro-Ride to fix the drainage problem.

But whatever it's called, it was met with approval, especially by Golden Doc A's jockey Rafael Bejarano and owner Ron McCauley, the latter of whom recently purchased the daughter of Unusual Heat for an undisclosed price and watched her race under his colors for the first time.

Bejarano won four times on the 10-race card, just missing a fifth victory and a stakes sweep when Heatseeker's stretch kick fell a head short in the $250,000 San Antonio Handicap, which was won by 14-1long shot Well Armed.

A 25-year-old native of Peru, Bejarano also won the $250,000 Santa Maria Handicap for older fillies and mares aboard Double Trouble and swept the late daily double in addition to his victory aboard Golden Doc A.

Bejarano, who relocated full-time to the Southland in November during the Hollywood Park autumn meet, pulled into a tie for second in the Santa Anita rider standings with David Flores, both with 24 victories -- five behind Garrett Gomez, who was in Louisiana on Saturday to ride 2007Eclipse Award winner Indian Blessing to victory in the $200,000 Silverbulletday Stakes at the Fair Grounds.

Golden Doc A, beaten only a neck by Indian Blessing in her last start, the Grade II Santa Ynez Stakes on Jan. 13, closed from last in the field of six to win the one-mile Grade I race by one length in 1:35.86 as the 8-5 favorite.

"When I saw her turn for home and she was gaining on the horse in front and I saw her overpower the horse in front, I knew we were going to be in the winner's circle because that's the way she runs," said McCauley, who recently sold several car dealerships in Lexington, Ky., for the capital to jump into thoroughbred racing.

Asked how many times he'll watch the replay, McCauley said, "For the rest of my life."

art.wilson@sgvn.com

CAPTION(S):

photo

Photo:

Golden Doc A, foreground, with Rafael Bejarano aboard, outruns Lovely Isle to win the Grade I, $250,000 Las Virgenes Stakes on Saturday at Santa Anita.

Benoit Photo
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Feb 10, 2008
Words:471
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