Aloha West prevailed by the slimmest of margins in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1), catching Dr. Schivel on the wire at Del Mar.
“It was really close,” said Aaron Wellman, managing partner for owner Eclipse Thoroughbreds, when asked if he thought Aloha West had won the thrilling finish.
Aloha West notched his first stakes win after the photo review separated the game competitors, and Wayne Catalano trains the late runner. The four-year-old colt completed six furlongs in 1:08.49 with Jose Ortiz.
“I knew there was a lot of speed in the race and I had none, so I knew I was going to come from the back,” Ortiz said. “He was giving me a great run, but I didn’t know if I was going to get there. Finally, we did. He put his head right on the wire. I was about 60 percent sure I won.”
“The head-bob was a tough one,” Catalano said. “But you know when the results come this way we’re happy.”
A Maryland-bred son of Hard Spun, Aloha West left the starting gate 11-1 fourth choice among nine runners.
Dr. Schivel, who tracked the pace as the 4-1 second choice, proved ultra-game after overhauling odds-on pacesetter Jackie’s Warrior in upper stretch, winding up 1 1/2 lengths clear of Following Sea in third.
“That was a tough loss,” said Flavien Prat, rider of Dr. Schivel. “He was running really strong, and didn’t see the winner coming as I did not look up.”
Special Reserve, who pressed 1-2 favorite Jackie’s Warrior through opening splits in :21.91 and :44.11, came next in fourth. Jackie’s Warrior, C Z Rocket, Firenze Fire, and Lexitonian completed the order.
Aloha West was exiting a fast-closing neck second in his first graded stakes attempt, the Oct. 8 Phoenix (G2) at Keeneland, and he increased his earnings to $1,321,068 from a 9-5-2-0 record.
“Right now, it’s a good time to win a race like this,” Catalano said. “We are low on horses and have been around a long, long time. I have been reinventing myself so many times. Fifty years and counting. I just want to settle down and have a handful of nice ones in one spot and enjoy my life with my three grandkids and one more on the way.”
Bred by Robert Manfuso and Katherine Voss, Aloha West is out of the Grade 3-winning Speightstown mare Island Bound, and he sold for $160,000 as a yearling at the 2018 Keeneland September sale.
“Wayne Catalano deserves all the credit in the world. I’m just so happy for Wayne,” Wellman said. “To do it with Wayne, who’s had to reinvent himself so many times. A lot of people don’t know, this is his fourth Breeders’ Cup win, 3,000 wins as a jockey, almost 2,000 as a trainer — he’s a Hall of Famer in my book.”