A GLEAM HANDICAP | PURSE: $200,000 | GRADE 2 | 3-YEAR-OLDS & UP | 7 FURLONGS
INGLEWOOD, Calif. -- Irish Gypsy won her third consecutive stakes, and first at the graded level, in dramatic style in Saturday's $200,000 A Gleam Handicap at Hollywood Park.
Allowed to set a modest pace of 23.93 and 45.73 seconds, Irish Gypsy held off a late run from Ultra Blend to win the Grade 2 A Gleam Handicap by a nose. The victory gave Irish Gypsy a fees-paid berth to the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint at Churchill Downs in November through the Breeders' Cup's Challenge program.
The finish was so close that officials needed five minutes to review photos before confirming the result.
Winning jockey Martin Garcia, who also won the Grade 1 American Oaks earlier in the day on Cambina in a dead heat, said the early pace helped Irish Gypsy reach the wire in the nick of time. Irish Gypsy ($12) ran seven furlongs in 1:22.44.
"She was doing it pretty easy," Garcia said. "I knew I had to get away from the closing horses."
Ultra Blend, last of nine on the backstretch, showed a remarkable rally through the final three furlongs to just miss as the 7-2 favorite.
"She ran her eyeballs out and just needed another jump," Ultra Blend's trainer, Art Sherman, said.
Ultra Blend finished 1 1/4 lengths in front of Tanda, who finished 2 1/2 lengths in front of Mildly Offensive in the field of nine fillies and mares.
Irish Gypsy races for Mike Pegram and John Sikura and is trained by Bob Baffert. A 5-year-old mare by Hennessy, Irish Gypsy has won 6 of 14 starts and $359,420. In her current winning streak, she won the Valid Expectations Stakes at Lone Star on May 30 and the Desert Stormer Handicap here on June 19.
"She's improved so much," Garcia said.