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Teen jockey takes first-ever stakes at Santa Anita

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POSTED February 26, 2012 8:22 p.m.

ARCADIA (AP) — Teenage apprentice jockey Eswan Flores won his first career stakes Sunday at Santa Anita, guiding long shot Tones to a neck victory over favorite Stoney Fleece in the $81,140 Baffle Stakes, a downhill sprint for 3-year-olds.

The 18-year-old high school senior and Tones stalked early leader Coach Bob coming down the hill, took the lead at the top of the stretch and held off a charge from Stoney Fleece and jockey Joel Rosario, covering about 6½ furlongs on turf in 1:13.47.

"This has been a dream of mine since I was 8 years old," said Flores, who had won 30 times at the Santa Anita meeting and was third in the jockey standings but had yet to take a stakes. "I wanted to be here so much I didn't even care if I was a galloper. I just wanted to be around horses. Now I'm here winning races, and winning a stakes race is the best feeling ever. I saw the wire and I saw my nose in front of another horse, but it was a tight race. I was really scared and couldn't wait for the wire to get there."

It was also the first U.S. victory for Tones, an Irish import who was unimpressive in his American debut at a mile on dirt for trainer Doug O'Neill at Santa Anita on Feb. 9.

Tones has now won three times in seven career starts and earned $65,968.

The winner paid $29.60, $8.20 and $5. Stoney Fleece paid $3.80 and $3. Passing Game was another nose back in third and paid $7.20 to show.

Earlier Sunday, trainer Bob Baffert saddled the day's first winner to extend a victory streak to 13 races, but later had it snapped when his next two starters finished out of the money.

 

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