Aotearoa wins Zuma Beach Stakes

The Associated Press

ARCADIA, Calif. (AP) -- Aotearoa rallied from last to beat 2-5 favorite Diamond Bachelor by three-quarters of a length Sunday in the $100,000 Zuma Beach Stakes for 2-year-olds at Santa Anita.

With jockey Corey Nakatani subbing for Garrett Gomez, 13-1 shot Aotearoa ran a mile on the turf in 1:34.42 and paid $28.60, $7.60 and $4.60. Gomez missed his return flight from Keeneland, causing him to miss all six of his scheduled mounts.

''I rode his daddy (Grade 1 turf winner Good Journey) and I knew he'd love the grass,'' Nakatani said. ''On paper, there was a lot of speed in the race, I thought, top to bottom. My horse broke on the lead, but I was able to ease him back, no problem, and he ran a big race.''

Diamond Bachelor returned $2.40 and $2.10, while Got Shades was another 1 3/4 lengths back in third and paid $3.20 to show.

The victory, worth $60,000, increased Aotearoa's career earnings to $114,000. It was his first start on the turf.

In the $100,000 Surfer Girl Stakes, 3-5 Clenor angled five horses wide with a quarter-mile to run and won by three-quarters of a length.

Ridden by Rafael Bejarano, Clenor ran a mile on the grass in 1:34.38 to improve to 3 for 3 going the distance on the turf for trainer Doug O'Neill.

''Breeders' Cup here we come. As along as she stays injury-free, that's the goal,'' he said.

Ireland-bred Clenor paid $3.40, $2.80 and $2.40. The victory, worth $60,000, increased her career earnings to $172,799, with three wins in six starts.

Nesso returned $6.80 and $4.60, while Colonel Joan was another three-quarters of a length back in third and paid $5.60 to show.

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