Rock Hard Ten rallied to win yesterday's Grade I Malibu Stakes on the opening card of the 85-day season at Santa Anita in Arcadia...
Rock Hard Ten makes last-to-first move:
Rock Hard Ten rallied to win yesterday’s Grade I Malibu Stakes on the opening card of the 85-day season at Santa Anita in Arcadia, Calif.
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Gary Stevens rode Rock Hard Ten, who ran 7 furlongs in 1 minute, 21-4/5 seconds. The Richard Mandella-trained colt paid $6.80 to win in the $250,000 race for 3-year-olds. Hall of Famer Stevens won the riding championship at Longacres in Renton in 1983 and 1984.
Rock Hard Ten, last in the field of 10 after a half-mile, won by a half-length over Lava Man and earned $150,000.
Lava Man reached the finish line a nose in front of Harvard Avenue. Harvard Avenue is owned by Ron Crockett, president of Emerald Downs in Auburn. Harvard Avenue, who earned $30,000 in the first Grade I start of his 12-race career, was a nose in front of Perfect Moon.
Doug O’Neill trains Lava Man (sent off at 8-1 odds), Harvard Avenue (21-1) and Perfect Moon (34-1).
“All three of them ran dynamite,” O’Neill said. “We would have loved to have won with one of them, but we’ll take a second, third and fourth in a Grade I any day of the week.”
O’Neill sent out Sky Jack to win the 2003 Longacres Mile at Emerald Downs.
Harvard Avenue is likely to make his next start in the Jan. 15 San Fernando Breeders’ Cup Stakes at Santa Anita, O’Neill said.
Rock Hard Ten, a distant runner-up to Smarty Jones in the Grade I Preakness in May in Baltimore, previously was trained by Jason Orman. The Malibu was the colt’s first start for Mandella, who has won the event a record four times.
Mass Media, who is trained by Bobby Frankel, finished fifth as the 6-5 favorite before a crowd of 31,874.
Kicking King wins King George VI Chase for hurdlers:
Kicking King won the $384,000 King George VI Chase by 2-1/2 lengths in Kempton, England, despite slicing through the top half of the final fence and contending with a fan who ran on the course dressed as Santa Claus.
Jockey Barry Geraghty was nearly unseated from the 3-1 shot.
“I was hanging on to his ears at one stage, but he was good,” Geraghty said of 6-year-old Kicking King. “I gave him a smack and he went again, but then I nearly knocked down Santa Claus.”
Switzerland, Sweden make good first impressions:
Kevin Romy scored twice and Michael Tobler made 19 saves to help Switzerland defeat Belarus 5-0 in its opening game of the World Junior Hockey Championship in Grand Forks, N.D.
Tobler made four difficult saves in the first five minutes as Belarus controlled play, but Switzerland took a 1-0 lead in the first period on Roman Wick’s wraparound goal.
“Getting the lead was very important because (Belarus) had already played a game and you usually have the most difficulty in your first game,” Switzerland coach Jakob Kolliker said. “Our goalie had good positioning and he stayed cool.”
Belarus fell to 0-2.
Switzerland plays the United States today in a matchup of 1-0 teams. The United States beat Russia 5-4 on Saturday.
Sweden opened its quest to win the tournament with a 6-0 win over Germany in Thief River Falls, Minn.
Vitale is an industry, baby:
Enthusiastic ESPN analyst Dick Vitale lives with Lorraine, his wife of 34 years, in a $4 million, nearly 13,000-square-foot home in Florida, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Vitale commands up to $45,000 a speech and has a Web site where fans can buy autographed caps, balls, bobblehead dolls, even an alarm clock that will wake you to the sound of Vitale shouting his signature phrases.
He has written seven books — “seven more than I’ve read!”
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