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Benoit Photo

by SantaAnita.com
ARCADIA, Calif. (Jan. 5, 2012) – Compari, a five-race loser since capturing the 2010 Arcadia Handicap in 2010, finally got headed back in the direction of that Grade II turf event on Thursday with an authoritative wire-to-wire victory in Santa Anita’s $77,400 Gutenberg Purse at one mile on grass.

With Rafael Bejarano in the saddle for trainer Marty Jones, Compari got away with a dawdling first quarter in 24.84, resisted a challenge by eventual runner-up Willyconker on the backstretch, and finished strongly to score by three-quarters-of-a-length in 1:34.38. Willyconker nodded El Gato Malo by one-half length for the place.

A 6-year-old California-bred gelding by Redattore, Compari had strung together six successive wins climaxed by the Arcadia triumph at one mile on turf before hitting the skids. He was sidelined for nine months during one stretch. A splint problem again took him out of action last May.

But Compari returned in November with a solid second in Hollywood Park’s Night Mover Stakes at six furlongs to signal his readiness to stretch out. He was bet down to 4-5 favoritism in the Gutenberg Purse.

“We’ve had to be careful with him, so we’ll see how he comes out of this,” Jones said afterward. “I’d think we’d look at the Arcadia (on Feb. 3) or the Sensational Star (at 6 furlongs on Jan. 28).”

Compari paid $3.60, $2.60 and $2.20 for his first victory since April 3, 2010 while bringing his overall record to 7-1-1 in 13 races. Willyconker, ridden by Garrett Gomez, paid $4.40 and $2.80. The show price on El Gato Malo, handled by Corey Nakatani, was $3.20.

“The race set up perfectly,” said Jones. “Rafael was able to get him to relax on the lead. Garrett (Gomez), who has ridden him before, saw that, too. So he knew to try to put some pressure on. But our horse was able to rebuff him.” Said Bejarano, “He showed me a big kick in the stretch. He was ready today.”

Owned and bred by Harris Farms, John Nicoletti and Donald Valpredo, Compari earned $50,700 for Thursday’s victory, which brought his career winnings to $510,430. “Marty has done a great job, and he’s picked his spots well with this horse,” commented Valpredo who noted Compari’s dam, Southern Charm, is something special.

“Everything out of her is a fighter…The mare is empty right now, but we’re probably going to breed to (Kentucky-based) Curlin.”

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