ARCADIA, Calif. -- The decision to keep Crisp near the front throughout Saturday s $250,000 Santa Anita Oaks gave the filly her first win in a Grade 1 race, and led to an upset of division leader Blind Luck.
Crisp ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.50, outfinishing pacesetter All Due Respect by a neck. Blind Luck, the 2-5 favorite, closed from last on the backstretch to finish a neck behind All Due Respect.
Jockey Rafael Bejarano rode Blind Luck and was critical of his ride in the stretch, when he guided his mount toward the rail instead of trying to rally to the outside between fading rivals.
"I missed my hole," he said. "She was best."
Crisp ($13.60) raced a length behind All Due Respect through early fractions of 24.83 and 49.78 seconds in a race that was run in light rain. In early stretch, Crisp was within a head of All Due Respect, with Blind Luck still sixth in a field of seven, trailing by nearly four lengths. Blind Luck was the filly catching the eye in the final furlong, but her rally fell short. She was seeking her fourth win in a Grade 1.
Winning trainer John Sadler told jockey Joel Rosario to keep Crisp near the front. She had finished fourth behind Blind Luck in the Grade 1 Las Virgenes Stakes here on Feb. 13.
"It looked like there was not a lot of speed, so we wanted to lay up close today", Sadler said.
All Due Respect was making her first start for trainer Kathy Walsh and owners Al and Sandee Kirkwood, having been bought privately earlier this winter after winning a maiden race at Fair Grounds in January.
Crisp, a filly by El Corredor, wore blinkers for the first time in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Oaks. Owned by Michael Talla, she won the Grade 3 Santa Ysabel Stakes over 1 1/16 miles here in January. Crisp has won 3 of 5 starts and $252,120.
Sadler said the Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs on April 30 is a long-term goal, a race also on Blind Luck s agenda.
Proviso noses out Fluke in Kilroe Mile
Proviso, the only mare in the field, rallied powerfully and just did nose out Fluke in the final jump to take the Grade 1, $300,000 Kilroe Mile, becoming the first female horse to win the race.
Proviso ($11.40) was eighth in the nine-horse field with a quarter-mile remaining, but finished swiftly to beat Fluke, who set or forced the pace from the start and just did miss. It was another 1 1/4 lengths back to third-place Battle of Hastings. Ever a Friend, the 2-1 favorite, finished sixth after pressing the early pace.
Under jockey Mike Smith, Proviso completed one mile on firm turf in 1:35.31.
The loss was as exhilarating for the winners as it was painful for the losers. Proviso gave trainer Bill Mott his first win of the meet here. He took over as the trainer of Proviso after the death of her previous trainer, Bobby Frankel. While with Frankel, she was prepared for last fall's Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic by Humberto Ascanio. But Prince Khalid Abdullah's Juddmonte Farms, which bred and owns Proviso, moved Proviso to Mott. Ascanio trains Fluke, who lost a heartbreaker.
"You have no idea how badly we needed that," said Leana Williford, the assistant who oversees Mott's California division and gets on Proviso to ride her every morning.
Proviso has now won 6 of 19 starts. She was second in the Grade 1 Santa Monica Handicap at seven furlongs on Pro-Ride in her previous start. Last fall, in her United States debut after arriving from Britain, she was disqualified from victory in the Spinster Stakes after ducking out near the wire.
- additional reporting by Jay Privman