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Lava Man Wins US Gr1 Santa Anita
In the US, multiple Gr1-winning 6YO gelding Lava Man (Slew City Slew-Lil Ms Leonard, by Nostalgia's Star) "continued his dominance of the Southern California circuit by becoming only the 3rd horse in 70 years (following John Henry 1981-82 & Milwaukee Brew 2002-03) to win back-to-back editions of the US$1 million Gr1 Santa Anita Handicap" (10 furlongs) for 4YOs & up at Santa Anita Park, reported thoroughbredtimes.com. Top-weighted Lava Man (ridden by Corey Nakatani for trainer Doug O'Neil & conceding between 7-10lbs to all his rivals) "stalked the pace through the back-stretch, took command as the field entered the lane & kicked home with authority to win by 0.75-lengths for his 9th consecutive victory in California," defeating Gr2-winner Molengao (Royal Academy-Court Lady, by Locris) & Gr1-winner Boboman (Kingmambo-Slewvera, by Seattle Slew). Lava Man won each of his 7 starts in California last year (including "a previously unaccomplished sweep of the Gr1 Santa Anita Handicap, Gr1 Pacific Classic Stakes & Gr1 Hollywood Gold Cup Stakes") but ended the season with a disappointing 7th in the Gr1 Breeders' Cup Classic on November 4 at Churchill Downs. He entered this weekend's race following a 2-lengths victory in the Sunshine Millions Turf Stakes on January 27 "but the switch back to dirt proved anything but a problem". Overall California-bred Lava Man (claimed for just US$50,000 by STD Racing Stable & Jason Wood 3 seasons ago) now has 16 wins (also including 2006's Gr1 Charles Whittingham Memorial Handicap & Sunshine Millions Classic, plus 2005's Gr1 Hollywood Gold Cup & Gr2 Californian Stakes) & 10 placings (including both the 2004 Gr1 Malibu Stakes & 2005 Gr1 Pacific Classic) from 37 starts for US$4,679,706 earnings.