Renee springs titanic upset


Zillah Reddam's Renee's Titan capitalized on a torrid early pace to stun newly-crowned champion Beholder at odds of 20-1 in Monday's Grade 2, $150,500 Santa Ynez Stakes at Santa Anita. Well beaten by Beholder in their only prior meeting, and winless from five previous stakes attempts, the Doug O'Neill trainee rallied from last to mug the 1-5 favorite and her stubborn rival Dawn's Charm in the final strides.

On paper, the Santa Ynez appeared to be a coronation for Beholder. A front-running winner of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies in her last start November 2, she was just honored as champion two-year-old filly at Saturday night's Eclipse Awards. Her seven Santa Ynez rivals (reduced to six after the withdrawal of Blushing Angel) were a mixed bag of promising maiden winners, headed by Dawn's Charm, and those seemingly exposed in stakes company, such as Renee's Titan. Beholder loomed as the class of the field, but it didn't pan out that way in a fiercely-contested race.

The 6 1/2-furlong dash began with a mad scramble for the lead. The rail-drawn Small Moves was quickest in the opening strides, but Dawn's Charm had bags of speed herself, and the two matched strides. Beholder was among the chasing pack a couple of lengths off the pace, while Renee's Titan was detached from the field in last. After a first quarter in :21, Dawn's Charm wrested control from Small Moves and tried to kick clear.

But Beholder started to make her move and drew alongside as Dawn's Charm reached the half-mile in a blazing :43 3/5. The champion was traveling a tad more comfortably than the pacesetter rounding the far turn, and swung for home as though she would roll right on by.

Dawn's Charm had more left, however, and dug back in resiliently along the inside. Beholder found herself in a dogfight, and simply could not pass Dawn's Charm through six furlongs in 1:09 1/5.

One who was making headway along the fence was Renee's Titan. Under a furious drive by Tyler Baze, who had dropped his whip but was flailing his arms vigorously, Renee's Titan was relentlessly gaining on the top two. She overhauled the battling pair in time, clocking 1:16 and sparking mutuels of $43.80, $7.80 and $4.20.

Beholder finally nipped Dawn's Charm by a nose. Another 3 3/4 lengths astern in fourth came Switch to the Lead, followed by Imwiththeblonde, Lady Rosamond and the eased Small Moves.

Renee's Titan earned 10 points on the Road to the Kentucky Oaks, and increased her earnings to $165,400 from her 7-2-2-0 record. Originally trained by Melody Conlon for John Liviakis, she made a winning debut in a $50,000 maiden claimer at Hollywood Park last June. Reddam then purchased her and transferred her to the O'Neill barn, and the daughter of Bernstein has run in stakes ever since.

Renee's Titan finished fourth in the Grade 3 Sorrento, and a distant sixth behind Executiveprivilege and Beholder in the Grade 1 Del Mar Debutante, before placing second in both the Phil D. Shepherd at Fairplex and the Sharp Cat at Hollywood. She was last seen fading to sixth in the Grade 1 Hollywood Starlet on December 8.

Bred by Mr. and Mrs. Liviakis in Kentucky, Renee's Titan is the first registered foal from the Tiznow mare Titan Queen, who is a full sister to the Dubai stakes-placed Roman's Run. Titan Queen is also a half-sister to current Canadian Grade 2 hero Big Band Sound -- a son of Bernstein and thus a close relative of Renee's Titan -- and to stakes scorer Silver Prospector. Further back, this is the family of Grade 1-winning sire Mining.