VANITY HANDICAP | PURSE: $250,000 | GRADE: 1 | 3-YEAR-OLDS AND UP | 1 1/8 MILES
INGLEWOOD, Calif. -- Midway through Saturday's $250,000 Vanity Handicap at Hollywood Park, jockey Garrett Gomez glanced in front of him to check the margins between his mount, Blind Luck, and Switch, the 3-2 favorite.
With Switch only two lengths in front, a slow pace mattered less to Gomez, who knew Blind Luck would give a response in the stretch.
"I thought I'd still be okay," he said.
Blind Luck was more than okay. The champion 3-year-old filly of 2010, Blind Luck closed from last in the final furlong to win the Grade 1 Vanity by a half-length over Switch, a performance reminiscent of her five stakes wins last year.
"She loves to run in the lane," Gomez said.
Miss Match, winner of the Grade 1 Santa Margarita Invitational at Santa Anita in March, finished a neck behind Switch and was followed by St Trinians, She's Cheeky, and American Story.
The final time for 1 1/8 miles was 1:50.89, the slowest in 60 runnings of the Vanity at the distance, but that was not a major surprise, considering that American Story set a slow pace of 25.52 and 50.24 seconds for the first half-mile.
Blind Luck trailed American Story by five lengths on the backstretch, which caused trainer Jerry Hollendorfer some concern.
"I was a little nervous, but I thought Garrett had her a little closer than he might have normally been," he said. "I said to him before the race, 'Try to watch the pace and see what happens.' She got a great run on them."
After a wide rally on the turn, Blind Luck was six wide in the stretch and reached the front with about 50 yards to go, denying Switch her first Grade 1 win since the Santa Monica Stakes at Santa Anita in January. Trainer John Sadler wished that jockey Joel Rosario had been closer to the front on Switch and had a larger gap against Blind Luck in the final quarter-mile.
"He might have been a little too far back," Sadler said of Rosario. "We might have been better off by having a couple of lengths on that horse turning for home, but she ran well."
Blind Luck won her second consecutive stakes in the Vanity; she won the Grade 2 La Troienne Stakes at Churchill Downs on May 6. The Vanity was Blind Luck's first Grade 1 win since the Alabama Stakes at Saratoga last August. She later finished second in the Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic at Churchill Downs.
Owned by Hollendorfer, Mark DeDomenico, John Carver, and Peter Abruzzo, Blind Luck, a filly by Pollard's Vision, has won 11 of 20 starts and $2,829,520. Hollendorfer said the $750,000 Delaware Handicap at Delaware Park on July 16 will probably be Blind Luck's next race.
Manhattan Beach: Sugarinthemorning wins first stakes
Sugarinthemorning won her first stakes in her third career stakes appearance in Saturday's $86,100 Manhattan Beach Stakes for 3-year-old fillies.
Sugarinthemorning ($25.80) finished 1 1/2 lengths in front of an unlucky Mizdirection, the 6-5 favorite who was blocked for part of the stretch. Fifth Commandment, a 24-1 shot, finished third in the field of seven 3-year-old fillies, a head behind Mizdirection. Sugarinthemorning ran six furlongs on turf in 1:09.18.
The race was essentially won on the turn, when Sugarinthemorning pulled jockey Patrick Valenzuela into contention.
"She dragged me right up to the leaders," Valenzuela said. "I guided her into the stretch, and she took off.
"She's always had talent," Valenzuela said. "She a big filly, and she's finally maturing into her body.
Stephen Weissman, who bred Sugarinthemorning and co-owns the filly with his granddaughter, Samantha Clement, was left stunned with the filly's rally that saw her move from fifth on the backstretch to the lead by the eighth pole.
"Against the competition, it was something," Weissman said. "I thought she was truly impressive."
Trained by Ron McAnally, Sugarinthemorning has won 4 of 8 starts and $167,834. Last year, she finished sixth in the Grade 1 Darley Debutante at Del Mar and fifth in the Moccasin Stakes at Hollywood Park, with both races on synthetic tracks.
The Manhattan Beach Stakes was Valenzuela's 99th career stakes win at Hollywood Park and McAnally's first stakes win here since November 2007.
Mizdirection was third with a quarter-mile remaining and did not have clear room until the final sixteenth. Trainer Mike Puype said the $150,000 San Clemente Handicap over a mile on turf at Del Mar on July 24 will be Mizdirection's next start.
"She'll win the San Clemente the way she ran today," Puype said.