INGLEWOOD, Calif. (May 27, 2013)—Making her first start of 2013, Marketing Mix gave Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens his first win at Betfair Hollywood Park in nearly eight years with a thrilling victory in the $250,500 Gamely Stakes Monday.
Idle since finishing second behind Zagora in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf last Nov. 2, Marketing Mix defeated Tiz Flirtatious by a head after a stretch long duel to win the first Grade I race of the Spring/Summer meet.
Trained by Tom Proctor for Glen Hill Farm, Marketing Mix, a 5-year-old, Canadian-bred daughter of Medaglia d’Oro and the Kris S. mare Instant Thought, won for the ninth time in 17 starts. Her second Grade I success – she won the Rodeo Drive last Sept. 29 at Santa Anita – increased her earnings to $1,809,518.
The 3-2 favorite returned $5, $3.20 and $2.20 while completing the 1 1/8 miles on turf in 1:47.24.
Positioned off the pace set by longshot Miss Ellany, Marketing Mix was kept in the clear after breaking from the outside in the field of seven, began to rally while inside Tiz Flirtatious around the turn and those two were a virtual team to the wire.
Nine days removed from his 15-1 surprise aboard Oxbow in the Preakness Stakes, Stevens collected his first victory at Hollywood Park since he teamed with the California bred Alphabet Kisses to win the Grade II A Gleam Invitational Handicap July 9, 2005. It was the first Grade I victory locally for Stevens, 50, since he captured the Hollywood Turf Cup with 10-1 shot Pellegrino Dec. 4, 2004.
“I was fortunate to work her three-quarters of a mile at Keeneland (April 18) and she was super strong,’’ said Stevens. “Both (Julien Leparoux aboard Tiz Flirtatious) and I were both trying to make the winning move coming into the stretch.
“About the sixteenth pole we were getting them cranked up and his mare actually had a little better turn of foot than mine did, but we managed to get up in time. Two good performances by two very good mares.’’
The win was the fourth in the Gamely for Stevens, but his first since Donna Viola in 1997.
“She’s a good mare,’’ said Proctor. “She makes me look good, that’s how good she is. That’s hard to do.
“You never know how fit they are until they run. If they aren’t, they get beat, if they are, they don’t. She’s always run well off a layoff.’’
Tiz Flirtatious, who had the lead briefly with about a furlong to run, paid $3.20 and $2.20 as the 2-1 second choice. She finished 4 ¼ lengths clear of 2-1 third choice Lady of Shamrock. The show price on Lady of Shamrock, the 2012 American Oaks winner, was $2.40.
Halo Dolly finished a nose back in fourth. My Gi Gi, Miss Ellany and Private Affair completed the order of finish.
Corey Nakatani replaced Garrett Gomez on Halo Dolly. Gomez was off his mounts again Monday still feeling some soreness after being involved in a spill in the first race May 24.
“She had a chance to get by that mare and (Marketing Mix) just wouldn’t let her by,’’ said Marty Jones, trainer of the runner-up. “She ran her heart out. Those are two super nice mares. Just another jump and we would have gotten to her, but that’s horse racing.’’
Earlier in the day, Comma to the Top led throughout to defeat five opponents in the $100,250 Los Angeles Handicap.
The task for the 5-year-old Bwana Charlie gelding became considerably easier with the scratch of 2-1 morning line favorite Fast Bullet – reportedly due to illness – and the Florida bred did not disappoint as the 7-10 favorite.
With the 1 ¼ length victory, Comma to the Top became the 36th horse to win at least five stakes at Hollywood Park. The leader is Native Diver with 10.
Trained by Peter Miller for owners Gary Barber, Roger Birnbaum and Kevin Tsujihara, Comma to the Top cleared easily under jockey Edwin Maldonado through a 22.37 opening quarter mile and held off Centralinteligence in the final sixteenth. He completed the six furlongs over Cushion Track in 1:09.11.
Comma to the Top, who won the Cool Frenchy Stakes May 4 in his first start of the Spring/Summer meet, has won 14 of 31 and earned $1,293,406.
Now 5-for-9 over Cushion Track, the Florida-bred, who is out of the Stormy Atlantic mare Maggies Storm, paid $3.40, $2.40 and $2.10.
“When we found out that (Fast Bullet) scratched, we almost knew we were going to win,’’ said Maldonado. “We thought we had a good chance even if he stayed in because this horse likes to fight. I’ve seen him have competition before and come back on to win. He’s just such an old pro.’’
Miller said Comma to the Top will stick to sprinting through the rest of 2013 with the Breeders’ Cup Sprint Nov. 2 at Santa Anita the ultimate goal.
The runner-up finish by Centralinteligence was his second in a row in the Grade III after he chased Roman Threat in 2012. The 6-1 shot, who finished 2 ¼ lengths in front of Camp Victory, paid $4.60 and $3.20.
The show price on 7-2 second choice Camp Victory was $2.60. It was the third consecutive appearance in the L.A. Handicap for the 6-year-old gelding. He won – via disqualification – in 2011 and was also third last year.
Camp Victory was ridden by Joe Talamo, so the jockey’s streak of five consecutive stakes wins at Betfair Hollywood Park ended.
Majestic City, winner of the Hollywood Juvenile Championship and Willard L. Proctor Memorial in 2011 who was making his first start as a 4-year-old, Tiz Tee Time and Apriority completed the order of finish.
Jockey Tyler Baze moved into a tie for third in the rider standings with four wins Monday.
Baze, who won the first with Me Likey Mikey, the third with Pointsoffthebench, the seventh with Pulpit’s Express and the 10th with Ralphy Girl, and Edwin Maldonado both have 22 victories. Rafael Bejarano leads with 27, two more than Joe Talamo, who doubled Monday.
Victor Espinoza’s 9-1 upset with Doyouseemecoming in the eighth race left him one victory shy of a significant milestone. The veteran jockey has 2,999 career victories. He could reach 3,000 when racing resumes Thursday at Betfair Hollywood Park.
Espinoza is scheduled to ride Rosies Ready in the sixth and Fighting Hussar in the seventh.
Post time Thursday is 1 p.m. Track gates will open at 9:55 a.m. for simulcasts.
The Hollywood Park Casino will be open for dark day simulcasts Tuesday and Wednesday. Admission is free. Simulcasts begin at 10:10 a.m.
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