INGLEWOOD, Calif. (June 18, 2011)—Defeated by Switch in their only previous encounter at Hollywood Park in the 2010 Hollywood Oaks, Blind Luck turned the tables Saturday, winning the $250,000 Vanity Handicap (video) by a half-length.
Last with less than an eighth of a mile to run in the Grade I, Blind Luck outkicked Switch and four other females for her second win in a row under jockey Garrett Gomez.
The 4-year-old Pollard’s Vision filly out of the Best of Luck mare Lucky One had to overcome a stumbling beginning to win the La Troienne May 6 at Churchill Downs.
In her return to California, Blind Luck had to rally despite a very slow early pace. Swung to the outside early in the stretch, the chestnut was able to get up in a race where all were basically equal across the track approaching the wire.
Owned by Peter Abruzzo, John Carver, Mark DeDomenico LLC and trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, Blind Luck, the 9-5 second choice, completed the 1 1/8 miles in 1:50.89. Due to the pedestrian fractions set by American Lady (25.52, 50.24 and 1:14.56 for six furlongs), the final time figured to suffer.
It was the slowest of 60 Vanity renewals at nine furlongs, but there was nothing slow about the final eighth of a mile turned in by the winner. It was in the vicinity of 11.40 seconds.
Spotting Switch three pounds (123-120), Blind Luck, the race highweight, won for the 11th time in 20 starts. The sixth Grade I success of her career lifted her bankroll to $2,829,520. Blind Luck paid $5.60, $2.80 and $2.20. It was the first time she wasn’t the favorite since she won the Alabama by a neck as the 9-5 second choice last Aug. 21 at Saratoga.
“I was a little nervous (because of the pace), but I think Garrett was a little closer today than he ordinarily would have been,’’ said Hollendorfer. “The only thing I said to him before the race was just to try to watch the pace and see what happens.
“He watched it pretty well and got a good run on them coming for home. We had kind of targeted the ($750,000) Delaware Handicap (July 16) because it’s a big purse, but depending on how everything goes we might wait for Del Mar. I’m so pleased to have a horse that’s lasted like this and kept her enthusiasm for racing.’’
The goal at Del Mar for Blind Luck would be the $300,000-guaranteed Clement L. Hirsch Aug. 6.
The win was the first in the Vanity for both Hollendorfer and Gomez.
“I wasn’t happy (with the pace), but I didn’t have much ground to make up,’’ said Gomez. “I felt if we (Blind Luck and Switch) turned for home together or me giving her two or three lengths, I could still run her down. She loves to run in the lane and she has a heck of a turn of foot.’’
Reserved off the pace by Joel Rosario, Switch, the 3-2 favorite, gained the place by a neck over Miss Match, who had upset her at 45-1 earlier in the year in the Santa Margarita at Santa Anita.
Now winless in three tries at 1 1/8 miles, Switch paid $2.80 and $2.20. Miss Match, attempting to provide trainer Neil Drysdale with a record-tying fifth Vanity victory, returned $4.20 to show.
St Trinians, runner-up to Zenyatta in the 2010 Vanity, was fourth, 1 ¼ lengths behind Miss Match, then came She’s Cheeky and American Story.
“I didn’t love the ride, but I thought the horse ran very well,’’ said John Sadler, the trainer of Switch. “She’s tough all the time. The pace was so slow, I’d have thought he’d (Rosario) be up a little closer. But as I said, she ran very well and you have to give credit to the winner.’’
In the race immediately preceding the Vanity, outsider Sugarinthemorning used a wide rally to take the $86,100 Manhattan Beach Stakes.
Third behind recent Honeymoon Handicap winner Sarah’s Secret in her first start of the Spring/Summer meet May 1, Sugarinthemorning defeated 6-5 favorite Mizdirection and five other 3-year-old fillies for her second victory in three races on turf.
Owned by breeder Stephen Weisman and Clement and trained by Hall of Famer Ron McAnally, the California bred daughter of Candy Ride and the In Excess mare Social Belle completed the six furlongs in 1:09.18. The margin of victory was 1 ½ lengths.
The Manhattan Beach victory was the 99th in a stakes at Hollywood Park for jockey Patrick Valenzuela. It was also the first at the track for McAnally since he won the Intercontinental Nov. 28, 2007 with Charm the Giant.
The win was the fourth in eight overall outings for Sugarinthemorning and boosted her earnings to $153,614. Dismissed at nearly 12-1, she paid $25.80, $7.40 and $5.
Entering off an 11 ½ length win in her turf debut at the Manhattan Beach distance, Mizdirection, encountered some traffic trouble, but managed to defeat 24-1 shot Fifth Commandment by a head.
Owned in part by radio and television personality Jim Rome’s Jungle Racing LLC, Mizdirection returned $3.20 and $3. The show price on Fifth Commandent, who was making her first start in the United States for trainer Jim Cassidy, was $8.
Racing resumes Sunday. Post time is 1 p.m.
There is a two-day Pick 6 carryover of $169,081 at Belmont Park. The Pick 6 begins in the fifth race. Scheduled post time for the fifth at Belmont is 12:08 PDT.
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