INGLEWWOOD, Calif. (July 14, 2012)—A rail skimming rally helped 3-2 favorite Lady of Shamrock become a Grade I winner in the $350,000 American Oaks – Presented by American Airlines – (video) Saturday at Betfair Hollywood Park.
Reunited with Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith, the 3-year-old Scat Daddy filly earned her fourth stakes win – two of them graded – in six starts since joining the barn of trainer John Sadler after being purchased privately by Hronis Racing LLC.
A first Oaks victory for Sadler was the most significant of a Saturday stakes triple – all graded – for the trainer.
Immediately after the American Oaks, Switch, the 2-1 choice, earned herself a berth in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint with a come-from-behind score in the $200,000, Grade II A Gleam Handicap. These wins came after Scherer Magic, a recent $50,000 claim, had taken the $150,000, Grade III Hollywood Juvenile Championship.
Saving ground while racing behind a very slow pace set by European shipper Nayarra, Lady of Shamrock began to move forward entering the stretch, was placed in tight by Best Present Ever, who had assumed the lead under jockey Victor Espinoza, but accelerated after the pair bumped and went on to win by 1 ¼ lengths. The final time for the 1 ¼ miles on turf was 2:03.19.
Out of the Blushing John mare Blushing Issue, Lady of Shamrock, who paid $5, $3 and $2.20, won for the fifth time in nine starts. She’s earned $465,400.
My Gi Gi, who defeated a troubled Lady of Shamrock by a nose in the Grade II Honeymoon Handicap June 9, gained second, 1 ½ lengths in front of Best Present Ever, who was trying to become the first California bred to win the American Oaks. My Gi Gi returned $5.60 and $3.40 and the show price on Best Present Ever, who was 10-1, was $4.20.
Completing the order of finish were Miss Cato, Stormy Lucy, Left a Message, Nayarra and 3-1 second choice Colonial Flag.
“I thought at a mile and a quarter (Lady of Shamrock) would eventually get a lane or a seam,’’ said Sadler. “I’m glad (Smith) didn’t alter the strategy even though it was paceless race. We still like to settle and she’s doing really well that way. I clearly think she’s the best 3-year-old filly on turf in the country.
“In turf racing you need to catch a break, you need to find a lane and she did. She has a real good turn of foot. We are very excited about her.’’
Sadler said another Grade I – the $300,000 Del Mar Oaks Aug. 18 – is likely next for Lady of Shamrock, who was bred in Kentucky by Greendale Sales.
“She was a victim of a slow pace last time and today it worked out real great where there was a little more pace and I was able to stay in the pocket the whole way and take advantage of it,’’ said Smith, who missed the Honeymoon because he was busy finishing second with Bodemeister in the Belmont Stakes.
“I know what she is capable of, but she was a little on her toes warming up and I was a little bit concerned she might be a little aggressive today, but, honestly, she turned off real well once the gates opened and after that got into a great rhythm.’’
In the A Gleam, a Breeders’ Cup Challenge “Win and You’re In’’ race, Switch ended a eight race losing streak, rallying from last after a half-mile to prevail by 1 ¾ lengths in her first collaboration with jockey Garrett Gomez.
The victory was the first for the 5-year-old daughter of Quiet American and the Nicholas mare Antoniette since she won the Grade I Santa Monica – which came five weeks after a Grade I victory in the La Brea – Jan. 30, 2011 at Santa Anita.
Owned by Lee and Susan Searing’s C R K Stable, Switch won for the sixth time in 21 starts and pushed her bankroll to $1,362,562.
In addition to a fees-paid entry into the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint, the Searings will also receive a $10,000 travel allowance because of the “Win and You’re In’’ provision.
Successful for the third time in seven starts over Cushion Track, Switch covered the seven furlongs in 1:24.37. She paid $6.60, $3.80 and $2.60.
Outrun early after encountering some trouble leaving the gate, the Kentucky bred swung widest of all into the stretch as the 122-pound highweight and ran down 9-1 shot Sugarinthemorning.
A California bred trained by Hall of Famer Ron McAnally, Sugarinthemorning paid $6.80 and $4 as she defeated 9-1 shot Glamorista by 2 ¼ lengths. The show price on Glamorista was $4.80.
Completing the order of finish were American Lady, Teddy’s Promise, Izzy Rules and Mildly Offensive.
“It’s been a rough season for me with my (graded stakes) horses,’’ said Sadler, whose other A Gleam wins came with Dearest Trickski (2008) and Evita Argentina (2009). “We ended up strong, so that’s really good. There were a lot of Saturdays through the middle of the meet here where we were second or third and we’re supposed to be winning those races. I’m very relieved and happy and we’ll keep working. That’s our program.
“We knew with Switch she wasn’t real sharp in her first race (of 2012 May 5 at Churchill Downs) and I thought she needed her last race (fourth in the Desert Stormer Handicap June 17), so it moved her forward for this one. It’s all a process.’’
Sadler hopes with the Breeders’ Cup being in California Switch can improve upon her second place finishes the last two years in the Filly and Mare Sprint.
“I love the “Win and You’re In’’’, he said. “I think that’s tremendous. You save a lot of money on entry fees and you take the pressure off. She’s been a very good horse to us.’’
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