Man o'War Day
Fillies in the Preakness
Adare Manor with John Velazquez aboard after winning the Las Virgenes Stakes
There were two stakes races on Sunday at Santa Anita for the three-year-olds. The first of these was the $200,000 Las Virgenes Stakes (G3) for 3-year-old fillies going 1 mile on the main track. It is also a points-scoring race with the winner earning 10 points in the Road to the Kentucky Oaks. Conditions were excellent in Southern California with sunny skies and temperatures in the low 80's. After Starlet (G1) winner Eda scratched out by trainer Bob Baffert, just four went to post with Eda's stablemate Adare Manor sent off as the 2-5 favorite off a maiden win at third asking on January 7. In to challenge her were 5-2 second choice Queen of Thorns off her debut win on New Year's Day, 11-2 third choice Gracelund Gray, 2nd in an allowance last out, and 15-1 longest shot Miss Everything, still a maiden after three starts. Due to the short field there was no show pool.
Adare Manor leads down the stretch
Pgm Horse Jockey Win Place Show 3 Adare Manor Prat 2.80 2.10 - 4 Queen of Thorns Rosario 2.40 - 1 Miss Everything Van Dyke - Winning Time: 1:37.11 $1 Exacta 3-4 2.30 $1 Trifecta 3-4-1 4.40
Left: Adare Manor in the winner's circle. Winning trainer Bob Baffert said, "She duplicated her last race, you know, she's got that big, long stride on her. I sprinted her twice and I thought she'd win each of those times and then I thought, well she wants to go long…She's like an amazon, she's got that big, powerful (way of moving). She's got that big frame but she's quick. She relaxed nicely today…I think that time (1:37.11) is pretty serious on this track. Just gotta keep 'em healthy. I've run her twice now, I don't want to come back too quick with her."
Right: Adare Manor heads back to the barn. Winning jockey John Velazquez said, "Bob told me even when she broke her maiden that's what she wanted to do. She wanted to go the two turns, get her stride going. Today I engaged her right from the gate and she got a little bit strong at the first turn, so I had to grab her a little bit try to slow her down a bit the first part of the race. Once we got to the half mile pole, I kind of put my hands down on her and her long stride just kept going just like that. I just left her alone and let her get into her rhythm, and she just showed up today."
Left: Adare Manor in the paddock before the race. Velazquez added, "Obviously, she stepped it up from one race to another one and she did it very nicely today. I looked back a couple of times and I slowed it down, I looked up saw they were pretty far (back) and I backed up thinking, I should save something here although she was breathing fire up front, I didn't want to ask her down the lane then Bob would get mad at me. I definitely wanted to save something."
Right: Adare Manor in the post parade.
Second place finisher Queen of Thorns in the paddock. The Peter Eurton trainee improved her record to 1 win and 1 second in 2 starts, earning $80,200 for owners Exline-Border Racing, Richard Hausman, William Dan Hudock, Aaron Kennedy, and Susanna Wilson.
Right: Third place finisher Miss Everything in the post parade. She improved her record to 0 wins, 1 second, and 2 thirds in 4 starts, earning $43,660 for owner-trainer Keith Desormeaux and co-owner Don't Tell My Wife Stables.
The fillies break from the gate for the Las Virgenes Stakes.
A field of 5 three-year-olds went to post for the $200,000 Robert B. Lewis Stakes (G3), a 1 1/16 mile points-scoring race in the Road to the Kentucky Derby series used to determine Derby starting spots. Bob Hope Stakes (G3) winner Messier was sent off as the 3-5 favorite off his second place finish in the Los Alamitos Futurity (G2). In to challenge him included 7-2 second choice Sir London, a maiden winner at 3rd asking on December 4 at Los Alamitos, and 9-2 third choice Wharton off his debut win at Santa Anita on New Year's Eve.
Jockey John Velazquez sent Messier to the lead first time by and he set fractions of 23.34, 46.94, and 1:11.32 while pressed by Sir London and stalked by 18-1 Cabo Spirit. Into the stretch Messier left the field behind, opening up by 8 lengths through 1 mile in 1:36.32. Kept to task by Velazquez, Messier contined to draw away finishing 15 lengths clear of Cabo Spirit in 1:42.89. It was another 7 lengths back to Wharton third.
Results Chart from DRF.
Left: Messier in the winner's circle. Winning trainer Bob Baffert said, "Jim (Barnes) had Johnny work him for me once and he gave me some good input on him. He's maturing, I could tell today that he's growing, he's getting bigger. You could tell when I put the saddle on him. He looked incredible, he looked the part. There were some good horses in there, they were legitimate horses."
Right: Messier heads back to the barn after the race. Winning jockey John Velazquez said, "I got to work him three weeks ago, just one time though, and actually I got a good feel of him. But today, Bob said to me, 'We got two really good chances and I think these two horses are going to impress you today.' I mean, he was not wrong. Right from the start I thought they were right today. They were doing everything, and they were training really well so, the outcome was just as he explained it to me. The horses are doing great and they run like it. It's a great surprise for me, just to come in and ride these horses and they show up like that, it makes my job easier."
Left: Messier in the paddock before the race. Baffert added, "I don't know yet (about the Santa Anita Derby). It depends on my other horses to see how (they are). We have always gone with whoever is doing well that week gets on a plane or stays here. So right now, we will just enjoy this and I'm just happy to have a horse like this in my barn."
Right: Messier returns after the race. Velazquez added, "I'm in post one and I don't want to give the lead to them in front of me, then they slow down in front of my face and I can't get out of there, so I asked Bob, 'Bob, I'm going to come out running just to the first turn, I'm not going to chase them but I'm going to let him get his legs underneath of him. If they want to go faster, they can go faster and I don't have to be on his mouth.' He said, 'No, do whatever you need to do." Then he asked me what the horse needed to do and I just told him, 'I told him to go!'. It was a strategy that worked. The horse is doing really great, he gave me the open hands to do what I needed to do and he showed up."
Left: Second place finisher Cabo Spirit in the paddock before the race. Trainer George Papapadromou said, "I'm very happy with him. I mean Messier is a nice horse that just beat us. But we gave it a shot. Mine was kind of a little hot and he was on his toes a little bit before the race. So, I don't know if that affected him, but he ran a good race, switching from turf to dirt, I mean he ran a huge race. I'm very happy."
Right: Third place finisher Wharton returns after the race. The Bob Baffert trainee improved his record to 1 win and 1 third in 2 starts, earning $64,200 for owners SF Racing, Starlight Racing, Madaket Stables, Robert Masterson, Jay Schoenfarber, Waves Edge Capital, Catherine Donovan, Golconda Stable, and Siena Farm.
The horses break from the gate for the Robert B. Lewis Stakes.
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