INGLEWOOD, Calif. (May 29, 2010)-Tuscan Evening remained perfect in 2010 and picked up the first Grade 1 victory of her career, holding Forever Together safe in the final yards to win the $250,000 Gamely Stakes on Saturday at Hollywood Park.
Despite unexpectedly being outrun for the lead by Cat By The Tale, Tuscan Evening earned her fifth win of the year as the 9-10 favorite, defeating the 2008 female turf champion by a half-length.
Ridden by Rafael Bejarano, who has won eight of nine in tandem with the Irish bred, Tuscan Evening earned her fourth win in five tries on the Hollywood Park turf course.
Owned by William de Burgh and trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, the 5-year-old daughter of Oasis Desert and the Suave Dancer mare The Faraway Tree ran the 1 1/8 miles in 1:47.30.
Named Horse of the Meet at Santa Anita on the strength of four graded stakes wins, Tuscan Evening has won 11 of 26. Her latest success made her racing’s newest millionaire. The $150,000 Gamely prize pushed her earnings to $1,049,408.
The betting choice for the seventh time in her last 11 races, Tuscan Evening paid $3.80, $2.40 and $2.10. Forever Together, who has earned nearly $2.9 million in her 22 race career, paid $2.80 and $2.20. The show price on Cat By The Tale was $3.80.
Hustled from her outside post in the field of seven by jockey Martin Garcia, Cat By The Tale, who had finished behind Tuscan Evening in both the Buena Vista and Santa Ana Handicaps earlier in the year, had the advantage through moderate fractions for most of the journey.
However, Tuscan Evening was poised to pounce to the 16-1 shot’s outside and took the lead with about an eighth of a mile remaining. She responded when requested by Bejarano en route to her second win in three attempts at nine furlongs.
“We couldn’t ask for her to do more than she did today,’’ said Hollendorfer after his meet high third stakes victory. “We thought we would be on the lead, but I talked to Rafael about it and we agreed that if someone did something different we would adjust and he adjusted perfectly.
“I was hoping she would hold the other mare (Forever Together) off. I am very proud of her. She is very game. I don’t think she has a best distance. It was just what the doctor ordered. She’s got tremendous heart, a tremendous kick and a rider that fits her perfectly.’’
The win was Bejarano’s second in three years in the Gamely. His other win came aboard Precious Kitten in 2008.
“Unbelievable,’’ said the rider after his meet best fifth stakes score. “This mare improves a lot every time. I was supposed to be on the lead, but when I saw (Cat By The Tale) go to the front, I just got my mare to relax.
“I rode her the last six or seven times and I knew she could do anything, go to the lead or come from behind. I was looking for Forever Together and I waited as long as I could.
“I just hit her a couple of times and when she saw that other mare coming, she really dug in. I thought I had a lot of horse left at the end.’’
Forever Together, the 19-10 second choice in her Hollywood Park debut, finished three-quarters of a length in front of Cat By The Tale. She was looking for her second Grade 1 win in California. The 6-year-old gray daughter of Belong To Me and the Relaunch mare Constant Companion won the 2008 Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf at Santa Anita.
“I’m really delighted,’’ said trainer Jonathan Sheppard of Forever Together. “I thought she was very game. It’s hard to run down speed at this track, but she gave it a good try.’’
Well Monied finished fourth, a neck behind Cat By The Tale and she was followed by General Consensus, Gotta Have Her and Princess Haya. Medaglia d’Amor was scratched on Friday.
Bejarano, Tyler Baze and Victor Espinoza all won twice on Saturday. Bejarano maintains a three victory lead over Baze (38-35) in the jockey standings. Espinoza is fifth with 15 wins.
Racing continues Sunday. Post time is 1 p.m.
Pincelada, who has won two in a row on the main track, is the 2-1 favorite in her turf debut in the $60,000 Manhattan Beach Stakes. Six other 3-year-old fillies are scheduled to run in the ungraded race at six furlongs.
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