ARCADIA, Calif. (AP) Joe Talamo left his house Saturday sensing he had a good chance of winning the $1 million Santa Anita Handicap with 16-1 shot Melatonin.
Still, the jockey had no idea it would be by 4 1/4 lengths while beating a less than stellar field in the Grade 1 race.
''I think I need some melatonin right now to calm down from it,'' Talamo said, referencing the substance used to induce sleep and reduce the effects of jet lag. ''I had goose bumps when I crossed the wire. Ever since coming to California, aside from winning the Santa Anita Derby, this was a huge, huge goal of mine.''
Melatonin ran 1 1/4 miles in 2:02.01 and paid $34.60, $13.80 and $6 for the crowd of 27,259.
Talamo convinced trainer David Hofmans to enter Melatonin after the horse won by 3 3/4 lengths in his last start at the track last month.
''He said he loves this race track, he's so strong and he had so much horse left, I think he wants to run even farther, and I was convinced he was a miler,'' Hofmans said.
Hard Aces returned $19.20 and $7.20, while 7-5 favorite Effinex was another half-length back in third and paid $2.80 to show.
Effinex, a forgotten second to Triple Crown winner American Pharoah in the $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic last fall, had been idle since winning the Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs on Nov. 27. The 5-year-old horse shipped in from New York for trainer Jimmy Jerkens only to come up short in his first start of the year, denying Hall of Fame rider Mike Smith a record fourth straight win in the race.
''I thought that sprinter (Melatonin) will stop but that son of a (gun) didn't stop,'' Smith said.
Melatonin earned $600,000 for his fourth win in 11 career starts.
Imperative was fourth, followed by Point Piper, Class Leader, Donworth, Cyrus Alexander and General a Rod.
There was an inquiry involving the top four finishers, but the stewards didn't change the order of finish after reviewing video of Donworth clipping heels with Melatonin.
In a Kentucky Derby prep, Danzing Candy led all the way to win the $400,000 San Felipe Stakes by two lengths, upsetting 8-5 favorite Mor Spirit.
Ridden by Smith, Danzing Candy ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.04 and paid $13, $5.20 and $3.40 at 5-1 odds in his stakes debut.
Trained by Bob Baffert, Mor Spirit returned $3.40 and $2.20. Exaggerator was another three-quarters of a length back in third and paid $2.40 to show. Baffert was denied in trying to extend his record of five victories in the Grade 2 race.
Danzing Candy earned 50 qualifying points for the Kentucky Derby, tying him for fourth in the standings that help determine the 20-horse field for the May 7 race. Mor Spirit earned 20 points to move into sixth in the standings with 44 points. Exaggerator picked up 10 points and fourth-place Uncle Lino earned five.
Trained by Cliff Sise Jr., Danzing Candy improved to 3-0 at Santa Anita, where the trainer said the colt will run in the Santa Anita Derby on April 9. He is 3 for 4 in his career, having won by 3 1/4 lengths at the track on Dec. 26 and by 5 3/4 lengths here on Feb. 4.
Danzing Candy inched away on the first turn and set the pace just off the rail. The colt held on under Smith's left-handed whip.
''I said, `Keep going, keep going,''' Sise said. ''I might have run harder than Mike did. He's got such fluid action. He does whatever you ask him to do.''
Mor Spirit has finished first or second in each of his six career starts. Baffert said the colt will stay locally for the Santa Anita Derby.
''He ran well,'' Baffert said. ''He's coming on. He got a lot out of it. We're learning a lot more about him.''
Smokey Image finished fifth, losing for the first time in seven starts against tougher competition. I Will Score was sixth and last.
There was an inquiry and objection involving Exaggerator and Uncle Lino, but the stewards didn't change the order of finish after deciding Uncle Lino's chances at a higher placing weren't compromised.
In other stakes:
- What a View led all the way to win the $400,345 Frank E. Kilroe Mile by 3 3/4 lengths over 2-1 favorite Bolo.
Ridden by Kent Desormeaux, What a View ran the distance on turf in 1:35.57 and paid $14, $5.80 and $3.40 at 6-1 odds. Bolo was second and Brazil-bred Bal a Bali third in the Grade 1 race.
- Kobe's Back rallied from last to win the $300,000 San Carlos Stakes by 1 1/4 lengths under Gary Stevens. The 5-year-old gray horse ran seven furlongs in 1:22.20 and paid $6, $3.60 and $2.60 as the 2-1 favorite named for Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant.
Coastline was second and Calculator third in the Grade 2 race. Defending champion Wild Dude was sixth.
- Ireland-bred Mirage, a 25-1 shot, rallied to win the $75,000 China Doll Stakes by a neck under Alonso Quinonez.
The 3-year-old filly ran a mile on turf in 1:37.43 and paid $56.20 to win.
A pair of Ireland-breds, Lady Valeur and Nodiac, were second and third.
Pacific Heat finished fourth as the 4-5 favorite.