Saturday At Santa Anita
Miss Match just edges Switch in Santa Margarita
Matthew Cloros' MISS MATCH (Arg) (Indygo Shiner) entered Saturday's $300,000 Santa Margarita Invitational (G1) at Santa Anita already owning a Group 1 victory from her native Argentina. She exited the nine-furlong test with another top-level win after just getting her head in front of La Brea S. (G1) victress Switch (Quiet American) to score under jockey Garrett Gomez.
The excitement of the photo finish was marred, though, when pacesetter Always a Princess (Leroidesanimaux [Brz]) fell nearing the wire. Winner of the La Canada S. (G2) and El Encino S. (G2) over champion Blind Luck (Pollard's Luck) in her past two, the chestnut miss took a bad step in the stretch and was being pulled up by jockey Martin Garcia when she suddenly went down.
"I was riding and I just heard a 'pop.' I tried to pull her up, but she was running," a shaken Garcia said.
HRTV reported following the race that Always a Princess had fractured both sesamoids and would have surgery on Monday. While her racing career is over, there is hope she can begin a new career in the breeding shed.
"It's her (left front) ankle, but she'll be all right," her trainer, Bob Baffert, said. "She ran so hard, I think she was just exhausted and went to lay down, you know. She took care of herself. It (the ankle) didn't go down. I feel a lot better about it."
With tragedy apparently averted, Miss Match's connections celebrated her Santa Margarita victory. The dark bay mare was close to the early pace set by Always a Princess, running in third through splits of :23 1/5 and :46 1/5, but dropped back a bit on the backstretch. She came out in the stretch and Gomez set her down to go after Switch, who had taken over from Always a Princess in midstretch. Miss Match just got her head in front on the line to finish up in 1:47 1/5 over the fast dirt.
"She had placed herself well and was traveling really good," Gomez explained. "(Rafael) Bejarano (on Vision in Gold) and (Joe Talamo on St Trinians) both kind of snuck up on either side of me trying to move up and have those other horses ahead of us in dead aim. I didn't feel like I could do that with her and continue with a run. I just sat there and let them all make a run. I knew she would stay, I just didn't know if I could get her accelerated enough to pick her back up.
"She wasn't traveling all that great in the middle of the turn. I just kept waiting on her to give her a chance to reestablish the way she was training and start traveling better.
"When I first got to the quarter-pole I asked her to pick it up and she did a little bit at a time. As I moved her out and decided to move back in, it was like a whole new horse just jumped right in the bridle. She had this win attitude where she knew what she wanted and she went after it. She came home very well for us."
Sent off the 45-1 second longest shot in the field, Miss Match paid $92.40, $14.60 and $6. Switch, the 4-5 favorite, was a half-length in front of Vision in Gold (Medaglia d'Oro), with St Trinians (GB) (Piccolo) and Hemera (Maria's Mon) completing the order under the wire. Party With Brando (Bertrando) was scratched.
"We had a good trip. She just got a little tired in the lane," said Joel Rosario aboard Switch. "I'm not disappointed. She gave me everything she had. She came back good and that's the main thing."
Miss Match earned her first victory stateside when taking an allowance last out in her seasonal bow, and adds the Santa Margarita to a resume that now reads 20-6-2-6, $551,614. Third in the Winter Melody S. and Wayward Lass S. last year, the six-year-old mare captured the Gran Premio Seleccion (Arg-G1), ran second in the Premio Franciso J. Beazley (Arg-G2) and finished third in the Gran Premio Copa de Plata (Arg-G1) and Premio General Luis Maria Campos (Arg-G2), all in 2008.
"We were just hoping that they'd go fast enough up front and she would come running," trainer Neil Drysdale said. "That's her style, so we weren't going to change her style of racing. It played out well apart from that poor filly (Always a Princess) getting injured."
Miss Match sold for $500,000 as last year's Keeneland November sale, and is out of Miss Simpatia (Southern Halo). That one is herself a daughter of Group 3 winner Miss Peggy (Arg) (Fitzcarraldo), making her a full sister to 2000 Argentinean Horse of the Year Miss Linda (Arg), who captured the 2001 Spinster S. (G1) while also placing in the Apple Blossom H. (G1) and Personal Ensign H. (G1) in the United States. Miss Simpatia is also a full sibling to 2004 Argentinean champion miler Mr. Nancho (Arg).
On the California worktab
Champion BLIND LUCK (Pollard's Vision), who has been plagued by seconditis of late, worked six furlongs in 1:15 1/5 over Santa Anita's fast training track on Saturday. Runner-up in the Cotillion S. (G2) and Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic (G1) to conclude her Eclipse Award-winning campaign at three, the Jerry Hollendorfer filly has played second fiddle to Always a Princess (Leroidesanimaux [Brz]) in the El Encino S. (G2) and La Canada S. (G2) at Santa Anita this year. The chestnut miss was withdrawn from Saturday's Santa Margarita Invitational (G1) so she could run in the March 19 Azeri S. (G3) at Oaklawn Park.
On the fast main track, recent San Vicente S. (G2) conqueror THE FACTOR (War Front) was credited with working six furlongs in 1:12 1/5, but reportedly went a mile in 1:38 2/5. A track-record setting maiden winner two starts back, the Bob Baffert sophomore is headed to the March 19 Rebel S. (G2) at Oaklawn.
SWAY AWAY (Afleet Alex), a close runner-up in the San Vicente and Best Pal S. (G2) in his last two, blazed seven-eighths in 1:23 3/5. The Jeff Bonde pupil is expected to face a talented cast in the Rebel next out.
Dual Grade 2 heroine BRIECAT (Adcat), runner-up in the Buena Vista H. (G2) last out, drilled a half-mile in :46 3/5.
Grade 1-placed San Pedro S. winner INDIAN WINTER (Indian Charlie), placed second after running third in the Turf Paradise Derby, sped five-eighths in :59 4/5.
Bayakoa H. (G2) victress WASHINGTON BRIDGE (Yankee Gentleman), whose winning skein was snapped when fourth in the Santa Maria S. (G2), logged five furlongs in 1:02.
Grade 1 winner INTERPATATION (Langfuhr), most recently unplaced in the San Luis Obispo S. (G2), turned four panels in :49 4/5.
Group 1-placed listed winner IMPONENTE PURSE (Brz) (Public Purse), fourth in the San Luis Obispo and San Marcos S. (G2) in his last two, motored seven furlongs in 1:27 4/5.
Grade 3 victor RUN IT (Cherokee Run), last seen taking the July 4 Alamedan H., was caught working five furlongs in 1:01 3/5.
Grade 3 winner CHOCOLATE CANDY (Candy Ride [Arg]), unraced since an off-the-board run in a June 6 allowance, covered three-quarters in 1:13 3/5.
Grade 1 scorer CHAMP PEGASUS (Fusaichi Pegasus), a thrilling nose winner in the San Luis Obispo last out, toured a mile in 1:38 1/5 on the firm turf at Santa Anita. The Richard Mandella trainee is expected to take his game on the road in the March 26 Dubai Sheema Classic (UAE-G1).
Multiple Grade 2 star BOURBON BAY (Sligo Bay [Ire]) exercised seven furlongs in 1:31 1/5 on the turf. Just outdueled by a nostril as the defending champion in the San Luis Obispo, the Neil Drysdale charge could get a rematch with Champ Pegasus in the Dubai Sheema Classic.
Multiple Grade 1 king DAYTONA (Ire) (Indian Ridge), not seen in competition since an unplaced run in the 2008 Breeders' Cup Mile (G1), clocked six grassy furlongs in 1:14 4/5.
Robert J. Frankel S. (G2) victress SPRING STYLE (Ire) (Pivotal), most recently unplaced in the Buena Vista, logged five-eighths on the sod in 1:03 2/5. The Ben Cecil runner is expected to show up in the March 19 Santa Ana S. (G2).
Grade 3 winner LEROY'S DYNAMEAUX (Leroidesanimaux [Brz]), third against optional claiming company in his seasonal bow, went five-eighths on the turf in 1:03 3/5.
Grade 3 scorer AWESOME ACT (Awesome Again), unraced since an off-the-board run in last year's Kentucky Derby (G1), worked five furlongs on the green in 1:02 2/5.
QUIET OASIS (Ire) (Oasis Dream [GB]), a nose runner-up in the La Habra S. (G3) in her three-year-old bow last out, covered five grassy furlongs in 1:03 4/5.
Grade 1-placed multiple stakes queen LA NEZ (Storm Creek), third in the Valentine Dancer H. most recently, worked four grassy furlongs in :50 4/5.
Grade 1-placed stakes veteran BUENOS DIAS (Ire) (Peintre Celebre), most recently sixth in the San Luis Obispo, turned three-quarters on the grass in 1:16 2/5.
Grade 2-placed multiple stakes vixen U R ALL THAT I AM (Valid Wager), last of five in the Kalookan Queen H., negotiated five furlongs on the turf in 1:04 2/5.
Group 2-placed MAJOR ART (GB) (Compton Place), fourth in the Eddie Logan S. when last seen, sped four panels over the weeds in :48 3/5.
Multiple Grade 2-placed stakes winner LILLY FA POOTZ (Gilded Time), fifth in the Buena Vista, completed six panels on the green in 1:15 4/5 in advance of a probable start in the Santa Ana.
Multiple stakes winner and Grade 2-placed STRAWBERRY TART (Atticus), sidelined since May, traveled five panels on the green in 1:03 3/5.
Recent Golden Gate Fields allowance winner KINSALE KING (Yankee Victor), who will go for a title defense in the March 26 Dubai Golden Shaheen (UAE-G1), breezed a half-mile in :47 3/5 on the Cushion Track at Hollywood Park.
COZI ROSIE (Pleasantly Perfect), who captured the Buena Vista last out following a nine-month layoff, sped four furlongs in :48 3/5.
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