Eric M. Kronfeld's Eblouissante has a long way to go to start emulating her big sister Zenyatta, but she showed she's heading in the right direction Jan. 17 with another authoritative victory, this time against a small, but experienced field in a 1 1/16-mile allowance optional claimer at Santa Anita Park.
Under Corey Nakatani, Eblouissante, trained by John Shirreffs, again demonstrated that big kick on the far turn, evoking images of Zenyatta. Although she had to work a bit to put away a stubborn Pink Blossom, who was making her 12th career start, the daughter of Bernardini -- Vertigineux, by Kris S. finally put away her rival and drew clear to win by 1 3/4 lengths in 1:44.89. She galloped out some seven lengths clear of the others in the field of five. This was the first time the near-black 4-year-old filly has run on dirt.
Eblouissante, bred in Kentucky by Kronfeld's Maverick Productions, is now two-for-two, having broken her maiden by 4 1/4 lengths at Betfair Hollywood Park Nov. 16. She was entered in an allowance race last month, but was a late scratch.
Folk Dancer, the veteran of the group with 37 career starts, went to the front, setting fractions of :24.52 and :48.12, followed by Pink Blossom and Viva Carina, who also was making her dirt debut. Eblouissante, favored at 3-5, broke a step slowly and dropped back last, again much like her sister. When Nakatani pulled the trigger, Eblouissante took off with those same humongous strides and quickly pounced on the leaders nearing the head of the stretch. It was uncanny how much she resembled Zenyatta in stride and style.
"She's a lot like her dam in a lot of ways, slow out of the gate, big strides," said trainer John Shirreffs, who also conditioned Zenyatta, the 2010 Horse of the Year and winner of her first 19 starts.
Eblouissante pulled on even terms turning for home, but Pink Blossom would not give up without a fight. Nakatani had to go a right-handed whip and Eblouissante finally wore her down and began to ease clear with a final sixteenth in :06.48. Folk Dancer finished third.
"She's such a big filly," Nakatani said. "She may look like she breaks slowly but she doesn't. She actually breaks very well. They ran away from her a little, so I just dropped her steady inside. The plan was to see how she handled the dirt today and she handled it better than we thought she would."
Although this was far from a strong field, the second- and third-place finishers had made a combined 48 starts, compared to two for Eblouissante.
Kronfeld did not attend the race.
"No, he's not here," Shirreffs said. "He wanted to stay home. He's a little superstitious."
Shirreffs said he was satisfield with Eblouissante's effort.
"She sat nicely. She moved up nicely. She stayed right where Corey wanted her, and at the end picked it up a little more. It was very good."
Shirreffs said he would discuss the filly's next start with her owner.