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Bran Earns First Graduated Stakes Win at Daytona (G3) at Santa Anita

Controlling the initial pace, John Sadler’s elegant French-bred Bran was never seriously challenged as he held off Majestic Eagle late to take Sunday’s $100,000 Daytona Stakes (G3) by a length under a scorching Juan Hernandez.

Owned by Hronis Racing, Bran covered about 6 ½ furlongs on the Santa Anita hillside turf course in 1:12.44.

A close second in his last start, the Twin Spiers Turf Sprint (G2) at Churchill Downs on May 6, Bran, a 4-year-old gelding, earned a second place after two previous tries at the Santa Anita course.

“There didn’t seem to be a lot of speed in the race but the good thing about him is he won both ways, he can be close or he can lay them off a bit like he did last time at Churchill Downs,” Sadler said. “He’s a very honest horse. He doesn’t have a bad run on his form, he runs well all the time. We’ll refresh him now and the distances in Del Mar might not suit him, so we’ll see.

Winner of the unranked Siren Lure Stakes 6½ furlongs from the Santa Anita turf drop two starts back, Bran was tied favorite in a field of five older horses and paid $4.

“He ran lead once down the hill and he did some nice splits like today, so John said to me, ‘Just snap hard and if he wants to go lead let him go’ said Hernandez, who was on board for the first time today and recorded his fifth in-game win of the weekend, with two more on Sunday’s schedule. “If anyone else wants to go , Follow him.”

“I broke in the lead and he was happy there. I waited for us to cross the dirt, then I asked him to come home and he did.

With two wins from six starts in Southern California, Bran, earning his first victory in graduated stakes, is now 19-6-4-3 overall. With the winner’s share of $60,000, he increased his winnings to $346,396. By Muhaarar and Best Intent, by King’s Best, Bran was bred by Lordship Stud.

Ridden by Edwin Maldonado, Majestic Eagle, one of Neil Drysdale’s two competitors, overtook Burnin Turf by a head for second place.

California-bred Burnin Turf couldn’t follow the early winner and finished third, finishing half a length ahead of Homer Screen.

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