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Joe Bravo celebrates aboard Lady Prancealot after winning the 2019 American Oaks
The usual feature race on the Saturday before New Year's at Santa Anita is the $300,000 American Oaks (G1) for 3-year-old fillies going 1 1/4 miles on the turf, starting on the downhill chute. 35,085 fans came out on a sunny Saturday afternoon with temperatures in the low 60's, with the turf course rated good. Lady Prancealot was sent off as the 8-5 favorite in the field of 8 off her win in the Valley View (G3) at Keeneland. In to challenge her included 11-4 second choice Giza Goddess, 8th in the Matriarch (G1), and 3-1 third choice Mucho Unusual, 9th in the Matriarch.
Down the stretch in the 2019 American Oaks
Pgm Horse Jockey Win Place Show 5 Lady Prancealot Bravo 5.20 3.00 2.40 3 Mucho Unusual Rosario 4.00 3.20 6 Pretty Point Smith 5.80 Winning Time: 1:59.77 $1 Exacta 5-3 7.60 $1 Trifecta 5-3-6 109.40 $1 Superfecta 5-3-6-7 416.30
Left: Lady Prancealot in the winner's circle.Winning trainer Richard Baltas said, "This filly came over here from Europe and the first time she worked she had an issue and we gave her a bunch of time. We thought we bought a bad horse but we didn't. She has been ultra-consistent. I want to give a hats off to the guys at San Luis Rey Downs, my assistant trainer who has had her there most of the time. "Jersey Joe" rode an awesome race and we are all happy now."
Right: Lady Prancealot heads back to the barn after the race.
Left: Lady Prancealot in the paddock. Winning jockey Joe Bravo said, She was so relaxed post break, so turned off and relaxed like she had full control over the whole race. All I had to do was point her to the hole turning for home and she took me through. She made my job easy. If she was a fat horse she would have never made it. Knowing a horse is always key, and the more information you can have, the better. Last time at Keeneland, she really took the lead too early, so I know the type of horse to point her at. I give Richard all the credit. Before the race I told him, ‘She's walking over here like a winner.'"
Right: Lady Prancealot heads to the winner's circle.
Left: Second place finisher Mucho Unusual in the paddock before the race. Trainer Tim Yakteen said, "We're really proud of her. A nice filly won the race, and you know, that's horse racing. It would have been nice to end on a great win. The mare has been very good to us. We are looking forward to the next ones coming up."
Right: Third place finisher Pretty Point in the paddock. The Patrick Gallagher trainee improved her record to 1 win, 1 second, and 2 thirds in 9 starts, earning $81,368 for owners Dave Bowden, Sabine Buerchier, and Gary Thompson.
Mirth wins the Robert J. Frankel Stakes
Jockey Abel Cedillo sent 34-1 Harmless to the lead first time by through fractions of 23.95, 48.77, and 1:12.31 while pressed by 53-1 Ms Peintour and stalked by 25-1 Streak of Luck. Turning for home the pacesetters tired as Mirth, 5th early under Mike Smith, swept 4 wide to the front through 1 mile in 1:36.40. Tiny Tina, 7th early under Javier Castellano, put in a strong 3 wide rally but Mirth held her off by a nose in 1:48.32. It was another 3/4 length back to Excellent Sunset third.
Left: Mirth in the winner's circle. Winning jockey Mike Smith said, "That was awesome. (Tiny Tina) got in front of me, but she dug back in. I feel great and can't wait for the next one. Let's see if we can do it again. There was a little more pace than I expected but that was fine because that helped me. If it had been just one horse going out there on the lead, then I probably would have had to go early to press him. But this way, I just got to sit and wait and move when I wanted."
Right: Mirth returns after the race.
Left: Second place finisher Tiny Tina in the paddock before the race. Trainer Phil D'Amato said, "It may have been Mike Smith's plan (sitting far back), but I thought we would be sitting second maybe, not that far back (second to last. But Mike is a Hall of Famer so he figured it out. Today she showed a good dimension against good horses so I think at the end of the day she wants to go further than a mile and eighth. This was a good stepping stone today."
Right: Third place finisher Excellent Sunset returns after the race. The Richard Baltas trainee improved her record to 2 wins, 8 seconds, and 2 thirds in 16 starts, earning $177,343 for owners Christopher Dunn, Abbondanza Racing, Mark Taylor, and Chris Johnson.
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