Creative Cause rallied from fifth to win the $300,000 San Felipe Stakes by three-quarters of a length over Bodemeister on Saturday in the Kentucky Derby prep at Santa Anita.
Ridden by Joel Rosario, Creative Cause went extremely wide around the final turn and then drifted out even wider before Rosario straightened him out. The gray colt trained by 70-year-old Mike Harrington ran 1 1-16 miles in 1:41.84 and paid $6.40, $3.40 and $2.60 as the 2-1 second choice.
"The race set up perfect today," Rosario said. "There were a couple horses with speed up front, and when I saw that, I just let him find his stride and go from there. My horse was a little green at the top of the lane, but I wanted to make sure that he didn't wait for another horse to come beat him.
"He galloped out good after the wire which helps to show he may be the right horse for the (Kentucky) Derby. That means a lot to me. I'm happy to get a chance to ride in it, and I want to win the race."
Harrington said he was relieved to get the race over.
"He didn't have to win it, but these are the kind of races you like to win," he said. "I said all along it's a progression and the only thing I hope is that he doesn't peak in the Santa Anita Derby instead of the (May 5) Kentucky Derby. That's my job to kind of keep that from happening."
Bodemeister, named for the young son of Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, returned $3.40 and $2.80, and Midnight Transfer was another 2 1/4 lengths back in third and paid $6 to show.
"Bodemeister ran well," Baffert said. "He just got a little tired. He ran a pretty hard race."
Liaison, Baffert's other starter, was fourth. Rousing Sermon was fifth, followed by Blingo, American Act, Tiz Point, Empire Way and Groovin' Solo. Creative Cause and Liaison carried co-high weight of 123 pounds.
The victory, worth $180,000, increased Creative Cause's career earnings to $729,000, with four wins in seven starts.
In the $74,500 China Doll Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, Lady of Shamrock stormed home to score her third straight win on the turf.
Ridden by Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith, Lady of Shamrock rallied from next-to-last in the field of nine to win by 1 1/2 lengths, running one mile in 1:33.73. She paid $6.40, $3.80 and $2.80.
Vionnet returned $6.40 and $4, while Indigo River paid $2.60 to show.