INGLEWOOD, Calif. (July 13, 2013)—Favored Emollient made an extremely successful turf debut, winning the Grade I, $350,750 American Oaks (video) Saturday at Betfair Hollywood Park.
Making her first start since failing at 4-5 in the Grade II Black Eyed Susan May 17 at Pimlico, Emollient fought off Emotional Kitten, another shipper, through the stretch to win by a half-length.
Owned and bred by Juddmonte Farms, Inc. and trained by Hall of Famer Bill Mott, Emollient, a 3-year-old Empire Maker filly out of the Touch Gold mare Soothing Touch, won for the fourth time in eight starts. Her second Grade I success – she captured the Ashland by nine lengths April 6 at Keeneland – increased her earnings to $656,900. She paid $4.40, $4.20 and $4.20 as the 6-5 choice.
The win was the second in a row in the American Oaks for Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith, who used a rail-skimming ride to score with Lady of Shamrock in 2012. Smith is the third rider to win the Oaks more than once, joining Kent Desormeaux (Ticker Tape in 2004 and Gozzip Girl in 2009) and Martin Garcia (Harmonious in 2010 and Cambina – a dead heat with Nereid – in 2011).
Positioned just behind the slow pace set by Sarach and Macha, the 1-3 finishers in last month’s Grade II Honeymoon Handicap, Emollient joined the leaders outside with about a half-mile remaining, got the advantage in midstretch, then was game to repel the bid of 8-1 shot Emotional Kitten, who was seeking her third consecutive victory for owner-breeders Ken and Sarah Ramsey and trainer Wesley Ward.
Rallying outside the winner, Emotional Kitten, who had earned her two recent wins by a nose on the turf at Keeneland and Pimlico, finished three-quarters of a length in front of 14-1 outsider Topic, a maiden winner June 13 over the Betfair Hollywood Park turf.
Emotional Kitten paid $8 and $5 while the show price on Topic was $6.80.
“She answered a couple of questions today,’’ said Rodolphe Brisset, Mott’s assistant trainer. “We didn’t know about the grass and we didn’t know about the mile and one quarter. That was a very good race for her.
“She’s definitely going to stick to the turf, but we can keep in mind that she won a Grade I on the synthetic (Polytrack) as well. It’s one or the other, we can keep everything open.’’
A gate-to-wire winner of the Ashland, Emollient changed tactics Saturday. According to Smith, this was by necessity.
“I got away slow, so I kept her covered up,’’ he said. “She broke so flat footed, I just put her right in behind. I could tell how slow they were going (25.63 and 50.26 for the opening half-mile), so I went for it to get in the clear and make the pace move. Looking back at it now, I can say it was a great move.’’
Sarach finished fourth, a half-length behind Topic and she was followed by Becky Lou, 5-2 second choice Scarlet Strike, Macha and Wittgenstein.
Immediately preceding the American Oaks, Book Review continued her love affair with seven furlongs, rallying past 13-10 favorite Teddy’s Promise in the final sixteenth of a mile to win the Grade II, $200,000 A Gleam Handicap (video).
Making her first start since finishing second in the Grade II Santa Maria Feb. 16, the 4-year-old Giant’s Causeway filly won for the fifth time in six tries at her favorite distance, prevailing by 2 ½ lengths under jockey Rafael Bejarano. The final time over Cushion Track was 1:22.75.
With the victory – her sixth in 13 starts for owner-breeders Gary and Mary West – in the Breeders’ Cup Challenge “Win and You’re In’’ race, Book Review earned a fees-paid spot in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint, which will be run Nov. 1 at Santa Anita.
Pushing her earnings to $884,955, Book Review, who is out of the Distorted Humor mare Clever Babe, provided Bob Baffert with his second A Gleam victory in three years. The Hall of Fame trainer also won with Irish Gypsy in 2011.
In an A Gleam reduced to a field of five after the Saturday morning scratches of Reneesgotzip, Conkate and the Baffert-trained Maker Or Breaker, Book Review was kept well off the pace and in the clear by Bejarano while Winding Way showed the way with Teddy’s Promise in close attendance.
Looking for her sixth victory over Cushion Track, Teddy’s Promise, a three-time winner at seven furlongs, got the best of Winding Way inside the final eighth of a mile, but was no match for Book Review late.
The 3-1 third choice, Book Review, who has two wins and two seconds since joining Baffert’s barn late last year after winning four of nine on the opposite coast for former trainer Chad Brown, returned $8.20, $3.40 and $2.20.
“She loves this distance and it helped that we had a couple of good front runners in there, so it set up well,’’ said Baffert’s assistant trainer Mike Marlow. “It’s actually what we had in mind.
“(Bejarano) rode her well. That was her first start on synthetic and that might have been her best footing. I think she really liked it.’’
Teddy’s Promise, who saved the place by a head over Byrama, winner of the Grade I Vanity at 1 1/8 miles June 15, paid $2.60 and $2.10. The show price on Byrama was $2.20. Rumor and Winding Way completed the order of finish.
“She dueled all the way and got a little tired at the end,’’ said Ron Ellis, trainer of Teddy’s Promise. “It’s tough to duel like that, especially at this distance on this race track.’’
Racing resumes Sunday. Post time for closing day for the final Spring/Summer meet is 1 p.m.
The feature attraction on the 49th day of the season is the $100,000 Sunset Handicap, a Grade III for older horses at 1 ½ miles on turf. The field is topped by defending champion Dhaamer and Marketing Mix, a multiple-graded stakes winning mare who won the Grade I Gamely against her own sex May 27.
The Sunset is the fifth of 11 races.
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