ARCADIA, Calif. -- Tuscan Evening won her seventh race in the last 12 months in Sunday's $100,000 Monrovia Handicap, holding off threats from the outsiders Czechers and Empressive Lady in the final furlong.
The victory was Tuscan Evening's first stakes win on Santa Anita's hillside turf course, in her third attempt. Last year, she was third in two Grade 3 handicaps on the course - the Las Cienegas and Sen. Ken Maddy. More recently, she had been racing at a mile on turf, winning the Grade 2 Las Palmas Handicap and finishing second in the Grade 1 Matriarch Stakes in November.
Ridden on Sunday by Rafael Bejarano, Tuscan Evening ($5) won the Grade 3 Monrovia by a length over 47-1 Czechers, running about 6 1/2 furlongs on the hillside turf course in 1:12.56. Czechers, who was fifth early, finished a neck in front of 41-1 Empressive Lady in the field of 11 fillies and mares.
Bejarano kept Tuscan Evening in third on the hillside, tracking pacesetter Pasar Silbano, and took the lead in the final furlong.
"She relaxed so well," Bejarano said. "I was very confident, even though I could see [Pasar Silbano] made an easy lead)."
Pasar Silbano faded to finish fourth. Even with Tuscan Evening going off as the favorite, the $1 trifecta returned $2,358.
Tuscan Evening races for William de Burgh and trainer Jerry Hollendorfer. A 5-year-old Irish-bred mare by Oasis Dream, Tuscan Evening has won 7 of 22 starts and $629,408.
Kalookan Queen: Free Flying Soul scores
Free Flying Soul won her third stakes in the last three months in the $67,400 Kalookan Queen Handicap earlier on Sunday's program.
Free Flying Soul ($3.60) appeared to have the race at her mercy throughout the 6 1/2 furlongs. Jockey Mike Smith kept Free Flying Soul just behind pacesetter High Resolve through early fractions of 22.30 and 45.02 seconds, took the lead in early stretch, and pulled away to win by 2 1/4 lengths in 1:15.02.
U R All That I Am closed from fourth to finish second, 1 1/4 lengths in front of Rainbow's Song in the field of five fillies and mares.
Free Flying Soul races for Marsha Naify and is trained by Bruce Headley. The 5-year-old mare won the Louis Rowan Stakes in October and Winter Stakes at Hollywood Park in December. A winner of 5 of 10 starts and $283,626.