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Kent Desormeaux celebrates aboard Miss Southern Miss after winning the 2016 Surfer Girl Stakes
On Columbus Day Monday at Santa Anita, a field of eleven 2-year-old fillies contested the $100,000 Surfer Girl Stakes at 1 mile on the turf, the main local prep for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1). Conditions were excellent with sunny skies and temperatures in the mid 80's for the 6189 fans in attendance. Con Te Partiro was sent off as the 9-5 favorite off her win in the Bolton Landing Stakes over the Saratoga turf in August. In to challenge her included 4-1 second choice Happy Mesa, winner of the Selima Stakes at Laurel, and 9-2 third choice Miss Southern Miss, fifth in the Del Mar Debutante (G1) after finishing second in the Sorrento (G2) and making her turf debut here.
Miss Southern Miss leads down the stretch
Pgm Horse Jockey Win Place Show 7 Miss Southern Miss Desormeaux 11.00 6.00 4.80 1 Happy Mesa Geroux 5.40 4.60 5 La Force Bejarano 10.40 Winning Time: 1:35.08 $1 Exacta 7-1 26.50 $1 Trifecta 7-1-5 423.90 $1 Superfecta 7-1-5-3 1,304.80Results Chart
Left: Miss Southern Miss in the winner's circle. Winning trainer Keith Desormeaux said, "According to her pedigree, she's supposed to run like this. I tell you what, since the two year old crop came in there's never been a doubt as to who is number one in the barn. If you watch her other races it was a struggle for Kent to get her to relax. And, even though he had a strong hold of her today, she seemed to be relaxed. I had a lot of confidence that she'd continue her run home. And, it's the pedigree! It's nice to see that kind of stuff come to fruition. She had them beat at the 1/8 pole. That's cool. She's been so exciting to have in the barn and she has all the things you want in a racehorse. I actually thought we'd see that on the dirt but she leveled off, didn't she? But she's going to be a really good horse on this turf."
Right: Miss Southern Miss in the post parade. Winning jockey Kent Desormeaux said, "We have always been very, very fond of her. She works lights out but unfortunately, when she gets behind horses on the dirt, the spray sets her off. It wasn't good for her mentally but on the grass, she just canters around there. She settled down the backside and never did take a deep breath today. She's very talented and I guess she just needed a little grass under her feet. I hope she's going to the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf because I'd love to rider her there." Asked about the Breeders' Cup Classic he added, "Exaggerator certainly created a whole family of love for us, I know that. Two country boys from the small town of Maurice, Louisiana. I'm just happy for WinStar Farm to acquire him because he's one of the quickest horses I've ever ridden. From zero to 100 in just two jumps. He's very, very fast."
Left: Second place finisher Happy Mesa in the post parade. The 4-1 second choice settled in 5th 2 1/4 lengths off the pace under Florent Geroux, then rallied late to get second despite Geroux losing his whip at the 1/16 pole. The Graham Motion trainee improved her record to 2 wins and 1 second in 3 starts, earning $83,810 for owners Green Point Stables LLC, Highclere America, and Zoom and Fish Stable Inc.
Right: Third place finisher La Force returns after the race. The 20-1 shot raced about 5 lengths off the pace under Rafael Bejarano then passed tired horses to get third beaten 3 lengths. The Paddy Gallagher trainee improved her record to 1 win, 1 second, and 2 thirds in 4 starts, earning $30,233 for owners Roberta and Ward Williford and Charles Winner.
Fourth place finisher and beaten favorite Con Te Partiro in the paddock before the race. The 9-5 favorite raced about 4 lengths off the pace early under Flavien Prat and passed tired horses to get fourth beaten 5 1/4 lengths. The Wesley Ward trainee has a record of 2 wins, 0 seconds, and 0 thirds in 4 starts, earning $100,900 for owner Hat Creek Racing.
The second race was named in honor of iconic California racing photographer Bill Mochon who passed away last week and who would have celebrated his 75th birthday today. The native of Providence, Rhode Island, served in the Marine Corps before coming to California as a commercial photographer. He began shooting at Santa Anita in 1973 and was a fixture of the Southern California circuit, seen daily at the morning workouts and the races, and was a friendly, willing mentor to new photographers in the sport. Fellow local racing photographer Shig Kikkawa organized the memorial. Here is a video of the celebration, and another from 2012 showing Mochon during a typical work day. The race, a $53,000 optional claimer, was won by 8-1 Roo's Valentine over 4-5 favorite Lunar Express.