INGLEWOOD, Calif. (May 19, 2013)—Jockey Joe Talamo completed a weekend stakes sweep Sunday at Betfair Hollywood Park with a victory aboard favored Iotapa in the $74,920 Railbird (video).
Shortening up after finishing second behind Beholder – the 2-year-old filly champion of 2012 – in the Grade I Santa Anita Oaks April 6, Iotapa was reserved off the pace, rallied outside Tres Belle and pacesetter Hail Mary around the turn and went on to win by 1 ¼ lengths over Ciao Bella Luna.
Iotapa’s third win in four starts came a day after Talamo captured the $150,250, Grade II Marjorie L. Everett Handicap with 9-1 outsider Open Water and the $100,500 Fran’s Valentine Stakes with 9-2 shot Unusual Hottie.
Trained by John Sadler for owner Hronis Racing LLC, Iotapa, a 3-year-old daughter of Afleet Alex and the El Corredor mare Concinnous, covered the seven furlongs over Cushion Track in 1:23.40. She pushed her earnings to $155,490 while returning $4.80, $3.40 and $2.10.
The win was her second in as many appearances at Betfair Hollywood Park. Iotapa broke her maiden in her debut last June 21 and was claimed for $50,000 by her current connections.
“You claim a horse and she wins and you’re excited, then two days later she came up sore,’’ said Sadler. “We took X-rays and she had a little fracture in one of her hind pasterns. It was a hairline fracture and we knew it would heal up well.
“Once they’ve showed they can run you don’t mind giving them some time. (Betfair Hollywood Park) is where she has always trained. She won first time back on dirt (Feb. 15 at Santa Anita), then she ran a big race in the (Santa Anita Oaks).
“The plan was to run her here and then run in the (Grade II, $150,000 Hollywood) Oaks (June 22).
The victory was Sadler’s third in the Railbird. Hall of Famer Richard Mandella leads with four wins. Sadler’s earlier victories came with Melair (1986) and Sportfull Snob (1994).
Five weeks removed from a 7-1 upset in the Grade II Beaumont at Keeneland, Ciao Bella Luna, who broke last, finished well after saving ground throughout under jockey Rafael Bejarano and wound up two lengths in front of Hail Mary, the 3-2 second choice.
Never worse than second in five races around one turn, Ciao Bella Luna paid $4.40 and $2.40. The show price on the California-bred Hail Mary, who had won the Warren’s Thoroughbred Stakes at the Railbird distance April 27, was $2.10.
Tres Belle finished three lengths behind Hail Mary in fourth. Irish Presence and Think Sunshine completed the order of finish.
Rafael Bejarano doubled Sunday, extending his lead in the jockey standings. The defending Spring/Summer champion, Bejarano has 24 victories through 16 days, leaving him five clear of Talamo and Edwin Maldonado, who won the 2012 Autumn title.
A 30-year-old native of Peru, Bejarano earned his wins Sunday in consecutive races, taking the sixth with Gutshot Straight and the seventh with Sweet Swap.
Racing resumes Thursday. Post time is 1 p.m.
The Hollywood Park Casino will be open for dark day simulcasts Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Admission is free. Simulcasts begin at 10:10 a.m.
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