INGLEWOOD, Calif. (June 23, 2012)—Less than two months removed from her maiden victory, Potesta became a graded stakes winner Saturday, edging even-money favorite Eden’s Moon in the $150,000 Hollywood Oaks (video) at Betfair Hollywood Park.
An 11 ½ length winner in her second career outing May 3, Potesta prevailed by a nose after a stretch long duel in the Grade II.
Trained by Mike Mitchell for owners Anthony Fanticola and Joe Scardino, the 3-year-old Macho Uno filly out of the Furiously mare Katzen gave jockey Joe Talamo his first Oaks victory.
Tracking the pace set by Eden’s Moon while outside, Potesta moved up to challenge approaching the stretch, appeared to be going better than the eventual runner-up inside the final eighth, but had to find more again at the finish after Eden’s Moon had re-rallied in the closing yards as the pair exchanged bumps.
The final time for the 1 1/16 miles over Cushion Track was 1:43.20.
A $75,000 yearling purchase in October, 2010, Potesta, who was second in her sprint debut March 22 at Santa Anita prior to her blowout victory at the Oaks distance, has earned $132,400.
The 7-2 second choice in the field of eight, Potesta paid $9.80, $4.20 and $3.40.
“It was all the horse today,’’ said Talamo. “Eden’s Moon is a real nice filly, so I knew I was going to need a lot of horse to get by. That’s why I waited longer than I wanted to.
“I figured it would pay off the last part, which it did. We just got up. She’s unbelievable. Mike has done an unbelievable job with her. That was her third start and she just beat a Grade I winner.
“When they can get headed and then come back like that, that’s a real nice horse. I really think the sky is the limit with her.’’
The win was also the first in the Oaks for Mitchell, who is second all-time at Betfair Hollywood Park with 884 victories, trailing the late Bobby Frankel (952).
“She’s a gigantic filly, but very easy to train,’’ said Mitchell. “She’s not a gorilla, she’s not hard on herself and she’s so professional in everything she does. A fun horse to train. I thought Joe gave her a million dollar ride.’’
Attempting to give Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert his third Oaks win, Eden’s Moon wound up 2 ¼ lengths clear of Via Villaggio. The winner of the Grade I Las Virgenes March 3 at Santa Anita returned $3.20 and $2.80. She spotted the winner six pounds (119-113) Saturday.
“She broke really well,’’ said leading jockey Rafael Bejarano, who turned 30 Saturday. “I thought I was going to win the race. She tried really hard.’’
Stretching out after upsetting Sister Moon in the Grade III Railbird at seven furlongs May 19, Via Villaggio rallied for third after trailing for six furlongs under Joel Rosario.
The show price on Via Villaggio, who is trained by Hall of Famer Jerry Hollendorfer, was $5.40.
Killer Graces, the other Hollendorfer participant, was fourth, 2 ¼ lengths behind her stablemate. It was the first time in six Cushion Track starts the Congaree filly, who won the Grade I Hollywood Starlet last Dec. 10, has been worse than third.
Completing the order of finish were Starlight Magic, Willa B Awesome, Open Water and Customer Base.
Racing will resume Sunday. Post time is 1 p.m. Track gates at Betfair Hollywood Park will open at 9:55 a.m. for simulcasts.
The feature attraction of the nine race program is the $100,000 Beverly Hills Handicap.
A Grade III for older fillies and mares at 1 ¼ miles on turf, the Beverly Hills is topped by Capital Plan. Winner of the Grade II Santa Barbara Handicap April 21 at Santa Anita at 10 furlongs for Mark DeDomenico LLC and Hollendorfer, Capital Plan will be ridden by Joel Rosario, who, beginning Wednesday, will be riding regularly at Belmont Park.
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