INGLEWOOD, Calif. (July 5, 2009) — Favorite Gozzip Girl burst through a gap at the top of the stretch and drew off to win the $700,000 American Oaks by 3 ¼ lengths under Hall of Fame jockey Kent Desormeaux on Sunday at Hollywood Park.
The Eastern-based filly beat an international field and several of the best sophomore turf fillies in the U.S. while covering 1 ¼ miles on the Lakeside Turf Course in 2:00.22
Well Monied, who headed a strong local contingent in the field of 14, rallied from 13th under Joel Rosario to finish second in the eighth running of the Grade I event — a half-length in front of Lexlenos. A couple of noses separated the next three with Magical Affair finishing in fourth in front of Acting Lady and Afternoon Stroll.
The Best Day Ever finished seventh, followed by English filly and second choice Apple Charlotte, Third Dawn, Nan, Irish-based Rare Ransom, Mrs Kipling, Pretty Unusual and Puttanesca from New Zealand.
Gozzip Girl won for the fourth consecutive start on turf, improving her record to five-for-eight for trainer Thomas Albertrani.
“She’s very much a lovely ride,” Desormeaux said. “She’s very graceful. She really loomed up boldly and got to that first flight quickly. It was just a matter of picking a gap and giving her somewhere to run. I know she’s very talented, but she really ran fantastic today. She won handily.”
Gozzip Girl, owned by Robert and Myron Miller’s Farnsworth Stables of Ocala, Fla., paid $6.40, $3.80 and $3.20. Well Monied returned $7 and $5.20, while the show payoff on 63-1 outsider Lexlenos was $14.60.
“She had a huge turn of foot like we saw in her race down at Gulfstream,”
Albertrani said. “I was hoping to see that today. I think we needed that to win today. This was probably the toughest competition she had to face. I was happy where she was and she just came with that great turn of foot and was much the best today.”
Gozzip Girl broke her maiden in her second and final start as a 2-year-old and won the Coconut Grove and Herecomesthebride Stakes on turf at Gulfstream Park during the winter. She then ran second while shifting to the main track for the Grade I Ashland at Keeneland, but rebounded in her previous start to win the Sands Point on a yielding turf course at Belmont Park.
“This race has been on our radar ever since Gulfstream Park,” Albertrani said. “I was here last year with Raw Silk and I always wanted to come back again. When this filly started to show me that she was a really nice filly, this was the race we had planned way back then. I expected it to be a tough race with the horses coming from overseas and coming to meet a horse on the West Coast.
“This was her toughest assignment so far,” he added. “She’s done so well and she seems like she’s improving all the time. We’re almost thinking about trying her back on the dirt. We’re going to talk about it, but the Alabama might be in our sights at Saratoga. She is very versatile. She can win on the lead and come from behind. She looks like she is just getting stronger and improving all the time.”
The victory was the first in a Grade I race for Gozzip Girl, a Kentucky-bred daughter of Dynaformer. The winner’s check of $420,000 raised her earnings to $782,194. She became the fifth straight winner from out of town.
Honeymoon Handicap winner Well Monied — the third choice — took the overland route while making her rally.
“We overcame a lot to be second,” trainer Howard Zucker said. “This was like a Breeders’ Cup field. What a job they did with this race. We just needed a better trip. None of them tried harder than my horse.”
Rosario tipped his cap to Gozzip Girl.
“The winner is a real nice filly,” he said. “I had to send her wide, but she likes running in the clear,” he said. “I didn’t want to take the chance of getting stopped because she’s such a long-striding horse and it would be tough to get her going again.”
In the Grade I, $300,000 Triple Bend Handicap, jockey Victor Espinoza guided speedy favorite Zensational to a front-running victory over Rush With Thunder.
Zensational, owned by Zayat Stables and trained by Bob Baffert, became the first 3-year-old winner of the Grade I race since Debonaire Junior won in 1984. The victory was the third in the Triple Bend for Espinoza.
“I wanted to keep him wide down the backstretch because when he’s close to other horses he likes to fight,” Espinoza said. “It helped a lot because he relaxed after that. The way he finished today was unbelievable. This is the second time I rode him and he showed big improvement from that race to this one.”
Zensational, a gray/roan son of Unbridled’s Song, covered seven furlongs on Cushion Track in 1:21.34 and won by one length while paying $5.40, $4.40 and $3.40. Rush With Thunder returned $10 and $6, while Noble Court paid $3.
“I like when they run like they train,” Baffert said. “It’s very rare. He just has that brilliant speed. He’s getting better and he’s relaxing a little bit. I told him (Espinoza) to keep him out there If you bring a horse like him to the rail, he’ll just take off on you.”
Zensational won for the third time in five starts while banking $180,000 to increase his earnings to $249,300.
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