SUNLAND PARK — What were you doing 405 days ago?
On Dec. 1, 2012, Jaycito, then in the barn of trainer Bob Baffert, was coming off an allowance victory at Hollywood Park in Inglewood, Calif., in what was supposed to be a prep race for the Grade 2 San Pasqual Handicap a month later at Santa Anita.
The eighth-place finish in that event began a long losing streak that dated 405 days until Sunday, when the 6-year-old son of 1998 Belmont Stakes winner Victory Gallop stormed down the stretch at Sunland Park Racetrack and Casino to win the $50,000 Curribot Handicap under jockey Ry Eikleberry.
During a losing streak, all sorts of things can go wrong.
That would be an understatement for Jaycito over the course of the last 13 months.
In the San Pasqual Handicap, Jaycito ran last and was eased. He would finish last in each of his next three races, beaten a combined margin of 68 lengths.
Following a fifth-place finish last July at Hollywood Park, he arrived in New Mexico where he lost three more races despite being well-backed at the betting windows.
Today, making his fourth start for trainer Justin Evans and owner Tony Pennington, Jaycito ended an eight-race losing streak with the win in the Curribot, giving Evans, the leading trainer this season at the track and the leading trainer in wins in the country, his seventh stakes winner at Sunland Park.
After an opening half-mile in 47.1 seconds in which railsitter Smack Ridge and Tap The Gold were pushing for the lead, Eikleberry took matters into his own hands on the outside, looming up 4-5 wide with Jaycito as the field approached the far turn.
Jaycito gradually wore down Smack Ridge in the stretch, drawing away to win by two and a half lengths, running the one and one-sixteenth miles in a final time of 1:42.93.
Evans indicated after the race, that if all goes well for Jaycito coming out of the Curribot, his next start would be in the Sunland Park Handicap on April 13.
"We've run into a lot of problems with him, but he's finally coming around now for us," Evans said.
Sunday's win with Jaycito completes a big weekend for Evans, who also saddled African Rose, the winner in Saturday's $50,000 El Diario Handicap.
Jaycito picked up his fourth lifetime win from 22 starts, the win increasing his career bankroll to over $427,000.
Dry Summer, another horse riding a long losing streak coming into the Curribot, will have to wait another day to end that drought.
Trained by Joel Marr and ridden by Carlos Madeira, Dry Summer, sent off as the 7-5 post-time favorite, closed well on the outside of a tiring Smack Ridge, inching that one out for the place by nearly a length. Dry Summer's last win came over this course nearly a year ago when he won the Mine That Bird Derby.
Smack Ridge saved the show, well clear of the rest of the field, with Red Lead, Big Tall Paul, For Cash and Tap The Gold rounding out the order of finish.
Sent off as the 3.30-1 third choice in the wagering, Jaycito returned $8.60 to his backers.
Next weekend at Sunland Park, state-breds will take center stage in Saturday's $85,000 Peppers Pride Stakes for older fillies and mares racing one mile. On Sunday, 3-year-old shortliners get top billing in the $85,000 NMHBA Quarter Horse Stakes at a distance of 400 yards.