CASTLE GATE OUTDUELS BALLAST POINT; $15,756 PICK 6 CARRYOVER ON SUNDAY
Returning to action for the first time in over 100 days, Paul Jones and Thompson Racing’s track record holder and multiple stakes winner Ballast Point went into the $17,000 allowance feature on Saturday at Los Alamitos looking to fortify his standing as the top distance horse on the grounds. And while the 5-year-old gelding by Favorite Cartel put together an impressive start to the 1,000-yard race after opening up a 3 ½ length lead, he was not able to hold off the late charge of Castle Gate, as the Kentucky-bred son of the five time Grade 1 winner Point of Entry (TB) was too strong down the stretch to win by ¾ lengths.
Racing for Joel and Joel Diaz and Josue Quintana, Castle Gate started slowly, picked up his challenge along the inside, gained momentum around the turn for home, and then set aim on Ballast Point in the final 200 yards. There was no stopping Castle Gate from there, as the Adena Springs-bred runner was able to outfinish his classy rival while covering the distance in :52.299. Cesar Ortega piloted Castle Gate, who is trained by Sergio Morfin.
“The horse has a lot of heart and that’s the most important thing,” Ortega said. “It’s also the great work of trainer Sergio Morfin and his team. Their work leads to their horses having a lot of heart. I’ve done well working with this barn. The most important part is the team and the horse. I tried to relax him as much as I could because we knew that we were never going to be able to challenge Ballast Point for the lead. Once I started talking to my horse, he responded right away nicely. He just kept getting stronger and stronger.”
Morfin, who was the leading Thoroughbred trainer at Los Alamitos last year, called this one of his memorable wins.
“It’s an emotional win because it’s not easy to beat (Ballast Point),” Morfin said. “Trainer Paul Jones has a great horse in Ballast Point and it’s a thrill to win. I have no words. I can only thank my team and Cesar for bringing everything together for this win. Every win is a great win, but this is a very special race.”
Castle Gate earned $9,050 for the win. Ballast Point earned $3,825 for running second. In his previous start back on January 2, Ballast Point set the track record at 1,000 yards of :51.676.
There was one race for 2-year-ods on the card and it went to Ed Allred’s More Than Chance, a half-brother to 2020 Grade 1 Ed Burke Million Futurity winner Chance To Excel. Sired by Fly Thru The Fire and out of Elans Last, More Than Chance surprised four rivals here to win at 4-1 odds with jockey Victor Salazar up for trainer Scott Willoughby. For Allred, this was a meet’s best seventh win with a 2-year-old.
Sunday’s eight-race program at Los Alamitos will start at 6:15 p.m. (Pacific) and will feature a Pick 6 carryover of $15,756. Last Sunday night, Los Alamitos had a Pick 6 carryover of $10,385, which led to a total pool of $79,310. With this carryover being 50% higher, the total pool should be well over $100,000. The Pick Six sequence will begin in the third race, which has an approximate post time of 7:07 p.m.