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Lava Man Wins US Gr1 Santa Anita Handicap
In the US, top-weighted 5YO gelding Lava Man (Slew City Slew-Li'l Ms Leonard, by Nostalgia's Star) added another Gr1 triumph to his record when he "spurted clear leaving the turn & fended off his rivals in the stretch" to win US$1 million Gr1 Santa Anita Handicap (10 furlongs) for 4YOs & up by 0.75-lengths at Santa Anita Park, reported thoroughbredtimes.com. Despite racing 4-wide in the early stages, Lava Man (ridden by Corey Nakatani for trainer Doug O'Neill) defeated Argentine-bred Magnum (El Compinche-Merrymaker, by Rainbow Corner) & 2004 Gr1 Breeders' Cup Juvenile victor Wilko (Awesome Again-Native Roots, by Indian Ridge). O'Neill claimed California-bred Lava Man for his current owners (STD Racing Stable & Jason Wood) for just US$50,000 in August 2004 at Del Mar; since then he has won or placed in 9 stakes races & captured three graded races (including a record 8.75-lengths victory in last July's Gr1 Hollywood Gold Cup Handicap). He opened his 2006 campaign on January 28 with a 2.5-lengths victory in the Sunshine Millions Classic Stakes at Santa Anita & overall now has 9 wins from 29 starts for US2,184,706 earnings.