INGLEWOOD, Calif. (June 7, 2009) — Arizona-bred Carlsbad, who won her first five races by a combined 54 lengths, saw her lead dwindle in final furlong, but hung on under a well-timed ride by Tyler Baze to win Sunday’s $150,000 Hollywood Oaks at Hollywood Park.
Carlsbad, whose lone career loss came when she finished second last outing in the Railbird Stakes, made amends with a front-running victory as Baze was able to gear her down to fractions of :24.26 for the quarter and :47.86 for the half.
She had enough in reserve to easily turn back a challenge from Kays and Jays entering the stretch and then hold off Lady Lumberjack in the final sixteenth for a half-length victory.
“She’s proved everything to everybody now,” said Baze, who rode two winners Sunday. “Last time we got into a wicked pace duel, had pressure all the way, and got beat by an undefeated filly. This filly’s special — it’s any distance with her.
“She’s just a real special, talented filly and it’s nice to be aboard her,” he added. “ I didn’t think we could get away with going as slow as we did early. I knew at the half-mile pole, somebody was going to really have to run to catch her.”
Carlsbad, the 2-1 betting choice, covered the 1 1/16 miles on Cushion Track in 1:42.59, paying $6.20, $3.60 and $2.80. Lady Lumberjack, ridden by Garrett Gomez, returned $5.60 and $4, while the show payoff on Third Dawn with Rafael Bejarano up was $2.80.
Carlsbad, a homebred owned by Dennis Weir of Prescott Valley, Ariz., was a 4 ¼-length winner in her initial start last October at Turf Paradise. She then won back-to-back stakes — the Arizona Breeders’ Futurity by 14 ¼ lengths and the Arizona Juvenile Filly by 19 lengths — to conclude her 2-year-old campaign. After a 13 ¼-length victory in the Arizona Oaks in February, Weir elected to ship her to California and she won the Grade III Santa Paula Stakes by 3 ¼ lengths at Santa Anita in March. She set the pace in the Railbird while making her Hollywood Park debut last month, but was overhauled by Witty in the stretch.
She made no mistakes under Baze in the Oaks, earning her first Grade II victory.
“We were lucky nobody got crazy and tried to go with us because it could have been a detriment,” trainer Jeff Mullins said. “She’s really gutty. Tyler and I talked before and he said, ‘If they leave me alone I’ll be fine, but as soon as she feels the pressure she’s going to go.’ It was a good thing that they laid off of us as long as they did and he was able to slow her down. He did a really good job. I think she’ll do anything. She’ll run over broken glass, this horse.”
Gomez and Bejarano did not get the pace scenario they wanted.
“She ran really good,” Gomez said of Lady Lumberjack. “She did everything I asked her to do. Going into the first turn, I thought those other two (Carlsbad and Kays and Jays) would hook up, but they didn’t. She kept wearing that other filly down. I just ran out of time.”
Third Dawn had a poor start for the second straight race.
“My horse broke really bad, but she got herself into perfect position after that,” Bejarano said. “There just wasn’t enough pace in the race.”
Carlsbad banked $90,000 while improving her record to six wins in seven starts. She has now earned $264,126.
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