INGLEWOOD, Calif. (May 18, 2013)—Taking advantage of a quick early pace, Open Water earned her first victory outside Kentucky, upsetting favored Lady of Fifty in the $150,250 Marjorie L. Everett Handicap Saturday at Betfair Hollywood Park.
The victory by the 9-1 shot gave jockey Joe Talamo a sweep of the afternoon’s stakes. More than three hours earlier, Talamo teamed with Unusual Hottie to capture the $100,500 Fran’s Valentine.
Trained by Eric Guillot for a partnership that includes Southern Equine Stable LLC, Mike Smith and Whispering Oaks Farm LLC, Open Water sat well off a spirited duel between Maker Or Breaker and Sister Kate, rallied in tandem with Lady of Fifty while outside the 7-10 choice and ultimately prevailed by one length.
A 4-year-old Include filly out of the A.P. Indy mare Biscayne Bay, Open Water completed the 1 1/16 miles over Cushion Track in 1:44.01. She paid $21.40, $6.20 and $3.20.
The Grade II win was Open Water’s third in 14 starts and boosted her bankroll to $270,750. Her two previous victories came over the Polytrack at Turfway Park – by a combined 15 ½ lengths – early last year. She was 0-for-8 in California and New York before her Everett success.
“She loves this track, that’s why I gave her a little freshening after Santa Anita,’’ said Guillot. “She danced every dance last year and she was always the bridesmaid, never the bride.
“I think she can go a mile and an eighth and I’ll probably run her back in the (Grade I, $250,000) Vanity (Handicap June 15).’’
Talamo, who had not ridden Open Water before Saturday, was impressed by her two works leading to the Everett. She was clocked in a bullet 1:12 3/5 for six furlongs May 5, then followed with a 1:15 move at the same distance a week later.
“It really worked out great,’’ said Talamo, who also won the 2012 Everett with Include Me Out. “You could tell they were rolling up front. On this track you just can’t go that fast (23.34, 46.54 and 1:10.84 for six furlongs).
“She was in between horses at about the 4 ½ (furlong pole) and (Lady of Fifty) was kind of pressing me a little, so I took back and went outside of her. At that time, she took a couple of breathers and I think that really helped down the lane. She was really game.’’
An impressive winner of the Bayakoa Handicap in her lone try over Cushion Track last Dec. 8 – a Grade II in which Open Water was second at 10-1 – Lady of Fifty wound up 4 ½ lengths clear of I Dazzle. Lady of Fifty returned $3 and $2.20 while I Dazzle paid $3.40 to show.
Maker Or Breaker, Sister Kate and Lady Aspen completed the order of finish.
More Chocolate, the 2-1 morning line favorite who had finished fifth 15 days earlier in the Grade II La Troienne at Churchill Downs, was scratched.
In the Fran’s Valentine, Unusual Hottie, the 9-2 second choice, took advantage of a dream trip to win by three-quarters of a length over Sugarinthemorning with 4-5 favorite Top Kisser a nose back in third after setting the pace.
Victorious for the second time in as many starts since joining the barn of trainer Jeff Mullins, the 4-year-old daughter of Unusual Heat and the Ski Champ mare Branca Como Neve won for the sixth time in 13 starts while running the mile on turf in 1:34.28.
The $60,000 payday in a race restricted to fillies or mares bred or sired in California pushed Unusual Hottie’s earnings to $289,498 for owner Seyyed Nilforushan. She paid $11, $5.80 and $2.80.
Talamo, who won last year’s renewal with Halo Dolly, became the third jockey to go back-to-back in the Fran’s Valentine, named in honor of the lone filly to win the Kentucky Oaks and Hollywood Oaks. The daughter of Saros completed the double in 1985 for trainer Joe Manzi and owner-breeder Earl Scheib’s Green Thumb Farm Stable.
The other riders to win the Fran’s Valentine in consecutive years are Garrett Gomez – Nashoba’s Key (2007) and Tutta Bella (2008) – and Rafael Bejarano – Bootleg Annie (2009) and U R All That I Am (2010).
Saving ground while reserved just off the pace set by the 4-5 favorite with Sugarinthemorning in close attendance, Unusual Hottie angled outside for the stretch run and was able to get the best of that pair in the closing yards.
“Man, she sure is sweet to ride,’’ said Talamo. “Everything went perfect. I saved all the ground, swung out and she just took off.’’
Sugarinthemorning, who was trying to end a 12-race losing streak, paid $7 and $3.20 while the show price on Top Kisser, who entered having won three in a row on the turf at Santa Anita, was $2.20.
Racing resumes Sunday. Post time is 1 p.m.
The main event on the nine race program is the $70,000 Railbird Stakes, an ungraded event for 3-year-old fillies at seven furlongs over Cushion Track. Ciao Bella Luna, the winner of last month’s Grade II Beaumont Stakes at Keeneland, tops the field.
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