When he claimed Lanier for $40,000 from a race at Churchill last November, trainer Brett Santangelo had one place in mind: Florence, Kentucky.
"We claimed him because I was going to Turfway for the winter and he had a ton of good synthetic form over there last year. We thought he may be able to show up at a few of those stakes over there at Turfway, and he did."
Today, Lanier took Santangelo to Chicago and carried him to his first stakes victory as a trainer with a resounding stalk-and-pounce score in the Hanshin Cup (G3).
The early pace wasn't especially swift, but it was hotly contested. Richiesinthehouse and Goneghost, both so accustomed to sending to the lead, dueled through fractions of 23.99 for the opening quarter and 47.56 for the half. Jockey Declan Cannon let Lanier lie in wait. Into the far turn, Lanier descended outside the dueling pair. He took the lead near the quarter pole, continued to battle with Richiesinthehouse once Goneghost dropped away, and then kicked clear in the final furlong. Despite drifting out late, he drew off to win by four lengths in a time of 1:35.84for the mile on fast polytrack.
47/1 longshot What's Up Dude, who tracked the pace just behind Lanier for much of the race, overcame a wide trip and got up for second in the shadow of the wire, a head in front of 2.4/1 favorite Nun the Less. Sir Anthony rallied up the inside for fourth, another three quarters of a length back. Revved Up, Richiesinthehouse, Goneghost, Eckersley, Machtree, and Gita's Lad completed the order of finish. Reride was a stakes scratch.
Lanier is a seven-year-old gelding by Lewis Michael out of the Arch mare Saint Jamie. Bred in Kentucky by Dennis Newhouse, he is owned by Oakview Stable, LLC. The victory in the Hanshin Cup was his first career stakes victory, and his ninth in 32 lifetime starts. The $57,000 winner's share of the purse brings Lanier's career earnings to $297,364.
Only five of Lanier's starts have been for Santangelo and Oakview Stable, but all five of those outings have been sharp. He won a six-furlong optional claimer at Turfway in his first start for Santangelo, and then never finished worse than fourth in three stakes races through the meet. He ran second in the Prairie Bayou Stakes at a mile and a sixteenth, then fourth (beaten only half a length) in the six-and-a-half-furlong Forego Stakes, then second in the Kentucky Cup Classic, in which he stretched out to a mile and an eighth.
That record through the winter made clear that Lanier could handle a variety of distances. Today, Lanier impressed Santangelo with another dimension of versatility.
"I wasn’t sure he’d like the one-turn mile," he said after the race, "but he proved me wrong and it suited him great. I think this horse is so versatile, I wouldn’t be afraid to run him five and a half furlongs and I wouldn’t be afraid to run him over a mile on the Poly."
Lanier's next target is not known, but he is sure to have plenty of options. "That’s what makes it so fun," said Santangelo, "we have so many options with him, and we can go just about anywhere with him. I’m very confident in this horse wherever we place him."
Lanier returned $13.20 to win. The $1.00 exacta over What's Up Dude (10-11) paid $287.80. A trifecta with Nun the Less in third (10-11-6) came back with $868.45. The superfecta with Sir Anthony in the lowest rung (10-11-6-5) returned $739.40 for each dime on the combination.
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