Imperative rallied from last to win the $80,000 Big Bear Stakes by 1 ¼ lengths Thursday at Santa Anita, snapping an 18-race skid.
Ridden by Kent Desormeaux, Imperative ran a mile in 1:35.98 and paid $4.80, $3 and $2.40 as the 7-5 favorite in the eight-horse field.
Conquest Cobra returned $4.20 and $2.80, while Magic Mark was another 3 ¼ lengths back in third and paid $2.80 to show.
Imperative had been winless since taking the Grade 2 Charles Town Classic in April 2014. The 6-year-old gelding was beaten 22 ½ lengths in the $1 million Pacific Classic on Aug. 20 at Del Mar.
“I think he can beat anyone in the world when he wants to,” said Desormeaux, who was reunited with Imperative after 1 ½ years. “He’s the kind of horse, he’s either going to show up or he’s not.”
Richard Baltas has trained Imperative in his last nine starts.
“He’s just a horse that’s hard to ride,” he said. “There’s a particular way to ride him and Kent knows how to ride him.”
The victory was worth $50,400. It was Imperative’s fourth win in 34 career starts.