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Newgrange Wins San Pasqual Stakes Second Straight Year

Trainer Phil D’Amato kept Newgrange  home at Santa Anita Park for the Jan. 27 San Pasqual Stakes (G2) instead of shipping to Florida for the Pegasus World Cup Invitational Stakes (G1), and the strategy is paying off. Newgrange won his second consecutive San Pasqual and is poised for a host of options for his next start, which, if the enthusiastic owners have their way, will be the Dubai World Cup (G1).

“If we waited and didn’t have to ship to Florida and back, then we could have a horse that was possibly coming off of two wins and then ship in to something like Dubai,” said D’Amato. “It kind of made more sense.”

Newgrange came into the 1 1/8-mile San Pasqual off a 2 1/4-length victory in the 1 1/16-mile San Antonio Stakes (G2) at Santa Anita Dec. 26. On Saturday he faced six others, including two from the Bob Baffert barn. Baffert-trained Newgate  went off as the 8-5 favorite over Newgrange at 2-1.

With Victor Espinoza aboard for the first time, Newgrange went right to the front in the San Pasqual. It was a little different tactic than the horse employed when he rallied from fourth early to win the 2023 San Pasqual under Juan Hernandez. Both resulted in identical one-length victories in very similar time, 1:49.26 this year vs. 1:49.97 last year.

In the San Antonio, Mixto  finished second to Newgrange when coming from off the pace. This time Mixto stuck closer to Newgrange, staying on his hip for much of the journey. Newgrange set all of the fractions, getting the first quarter-mile in :23.27 with Mixto a half-length behind, and then edging away to a length advantage when completing a half-mile in :47.55.

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Newgate raced in fourth early, moving up to third on the outside and ranging up into contention on the second turn. As they turned for home, the battle became between Newgrange and Newgate, with Newgrange reaching the wire a length in front. Mixto was three-quarters of a length back in third.

“I wanted to just bounce out of there and see what everyone wanted to do,” said Espinoza. “I knew I had the best horse in the race. I just rode him with confidence. In the end, he kind of lifted his head up a bit, but I kept him busy to make sure we hit the wire. It was a nice ride.”

D’Amato was hoping for a big effort from Newgrange after Espinoza worked him five furlongs in a bullet :59 Jan. 20.

“He just did it with tremendous ease,” D’Amato said. “Victor was aboard, and his eyes were lit up when he came back and so were mine. As a trainer, you can’t ask for anything better than that coming into a big race.”

Since D’Amato took over Newgrange’s training, the horse has won the two San Pasquals, the San Antonio, and an allowance race. Newgrange also ran third in the Native Diver Stakes (G3) twice and the 2022 Shared Belief Stakes. His only unplaced effort for D’Amato was in last year’s Santa Anita Handicap (G1), which prompted the trainer to freshen him for several months.

Newgrange races for David Bernsen, Gary Hartunian’s Rockingham Ranch, and Little Red Feather Racing. Newgate’s owners, headed by SF Racing, initially campaigned Newgrange, with Baffert training him to win the 2022 Sham (G3) and Southwest (G3) stakes. Rockingham bought Newgrange for $325,000 from ELiTE at the 2022 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky July Horses of Racing Age Sale.

Jack Mandato and Black Rock Thoroughbreds bred Newgrange in Kentucky from the unraced Empire Maker mare Bella Chianti . Mandato bred and raced Bella Chiarra, the second dam and winner of the 2000 Rampart Handicap (G2) and two other stakes.

Newgrange is the first 2024 stakes winner sired by Violence  , whose earlier runners include champion Forte   and multiple graded winner Dr. Schivel  . A multiple graded winner in only four starts, Violence stands for a 2024 stud fee of $40,000 at Hill ‘n’ Dale Farms near Paris, Ky.

Video: San Pasqual S. (G2)

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