Going to Vegas Determined in Rodeo Drive, Dr. Schivel Explosive in Santa Anita Sprint Championship

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Going to Vegas, in a blue shadow roll, held on to win the Rodeo Drive Stakes at Santa Anita Park. (Eclipse Sportswire)

Going to Vegas is going to the Breeders' Cup.

The 4-year-old Goldencents filly bounded to the lead and stayed there Oct. 2 in the $300,000 Grade 1 Rodeo Drive Stakes at Santa Anita Park, earning her first top-level victory by a head and securing an automatic berth in the Nov. 6 Grade 1 Maker's Mark Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf through the Breeders' Cup Challenge series.

Going to Vegas came off a win in the Sept. 4 Grade 2 John C. Mabee Stakes at Del Mar and has now won three in a row for Abbondanza Racing, Medallion Racing, and MyRacehorse.

Her fellow Richard Baltas trainee Luck, the 2-1 second choice off a huge Aug. 7 allowance win at Del Mar, made a bold run after racing just off the pace under Flavien Prat, and even though she could not get to the winner in time, Baltas was beyond pleased with the result.

"I'm thrilled with both performances," he said. "Going to Vegas has the tactical speed and loves going a mile and a quarter, and she showed it. It was a great ride by (Umberto Rispoli). My other horse, Luck, really moved up in class. I was really happy with her performance. She really improved in a grade 1. I'm looking forward to the future with her.

"We will see how the two horses come out of the race tomorrow, but I feel that both horses are heading to the Breeders' Cup."

After galloping through splits of 24.35, 48.72, 1:13.49 and 1:36.35, Going to Vegas kicked into high gear upon Rispoli's cue turning for home to finish in 1:58.84 on a firm course. She returned $4.20. Dogtag finished third, 3 1/2 lengths in front of Neige Blanche.

"I was busy because I could feel Flavien was coming. I knew he was coming fast, but we handled pretty well," Prat said. "I credit the owners and Richard as well. She's a grade 1 winner now. The next step is a Breeders' Cup."

Bred in Kentucky by J. Kirk Robison & Judy Robison out of the black-type winning Johannesburg mare Hard to Resist, Going to Vegas notched her third graded stakes score to improve her record to 7-8-2 from 22 starts, with earnings of $634,151. She is the first stakes winner out of her dam, who also produced the winning Diabolical filly Very Cherry. The mare has an unraced 2-year-old Grazen filly named Brand Loyalty, produced a colt by Om Feb. 18, and was bred back to Grazen for 2022. -Claire Crosby

Dr. Schivel Blows Them Away in Santa Anita Sprint Championship Despite Broken Rein

Flavien Prat had only one useful rein to guide Dr. Schivel for almost the entire six furlongs of the $200,500 Grade 2 Santa Anita Sprint Championship Stakes Oct. 2 at Santa Anita Park—and they won anyway.

After Dr. Schivel broke from the rail and Vertical Threat from post 2 took about a three-quarter-length lead, Prat appeared to bobble slightly. As trainer Mark Glatt explained later, the right rein came out of its keeper.

"I think he basically lost all control," said Glatt. "Prat said it happened when he grabbed him because when the horses cross over the chute, sometimes horses stutter-step there a little. When he took a little hold, it (the rein) popped right out of there."

Once that happened, Dr. Schivel decided that he needed the lead to do his job and win the race. He moved up inside of Vertical Threat and took the lead at the half-mile pole, surprising many onlookers, including co-owner Tim Cohen. In the past, when his jockey has had both reins, Dr. Schivel has come from off the pace to win, which had worked well for the past four consecutive races.

The 3-year-old Violence colt did what he'd been trained to do—go to the front—only in this case he decided when.

It didn't matter. Dr. Schivel drew away from the field and won by 3 1/4 lengths in a final time of 1:09.44 on the fast track. He paid $5.60 for a $2 win ticket.

He won so easily that it looked as if Prat was patting the colt on the right side of his head. In fact, Prat was trying to hold on to the right side of the bridle so that he could try to help guide his mount.

"I had just the left rein after we left the chute at around the 5 1/2-furlong mark," said Prat. "It was kind of scary. This has never happened to me before. The horse was very proficient. Everything was normal otherwise."

Dr. Schivel affirmed his status as a Breeders' Cup Sprint contender with an impressive performance at Santa Anita. (Eclipse Sportswire)

Glatt noted that they were lucky Dr. Schivel is "a good boy because if he had made any mistakes without any control…" The trainer then shook his head, recognizing how it could have gone so wrong.

"That's why Flavien kind of let him just roll because the last thing he can do is grab him at all," Glatt explained.

Flagstaff closed for second, a nose in front of C Z Rocket, the 2020 Sprint Championship winner.

Dr. Schivel was coming off a win in the July 31 Grade 1 Bing Crosby Stakes, where he earned a Breeders' Cup Challenge berth to the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Sprint. Saturday's win was also worth a berth to the race.

His four-race win streak began when he broke his maiden at the 2020 Del Mar meeting and continued through the 2020 Grade 1 Runhappy Del Mar Futurity and an allowance/optional claiming race after a layoff and prior to the Bing Crosby.

William Branch, who co-owns Dr. Schivel with the Cohen family's Red Baron's Barn, Rancho Temescal and William Dean Reeves' Reeves Thoroughbred Racing, bred Dr. Schivel in Kentucky in partnership with Arnold Hill. The Cohens bought a majority interest in the colt after his maiden victory. Luis Mendez trained Dr. Schivel at 2, with Glatt taking over this year. The colt is out of the Mining for Money mare Lil Nugget, whose last reported foal is the placed 2-year-old colt Barsini Red, by Midshipman. The mare was bred to Anthony's Cross for 2022.

Now with a record of 5-1-1 from seven starts, Dr. Schivel has bankrolled $536,000.

If all goes well, the next stop for Dr. Schivel will be the Breeders' Cup. While he earned his berth in the Bing Crosby, winning with only one rein in the Sprint Championship may have really told the tale of Dr. Schivel's talent.

Or as Cohen quipped, "He's going to be really good with two reins." -Tracy Gantz

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