INGLEWOOD, Calif. (May 21, 2011)—Thanks to a disqualification, Ultra Blend ran her win streak to three and became a graded stakes winner in the $150,000 Milady Handicap Saturday at Hollywood Park.
St Trinians, the even money favorite crossed the wire first by 1 ¼ lengths in the Grade II, but was placed fourth after stewards Scott Chaney, Kim Sawyer and Tom Ward ruled she cost She’s Cheeky, who was originally fourth, a chance at a better placing due to an incident in deep stretch. St Trinians was cited for drifting in and causing a chain reaction that also involved Ultra Blend and American Story.
The disqualification was the first in a graded stakes at Hollywood Park since Futural was moved from first to third and Aptitude declared the winner in the 2001 Hollywood Gold Cup. Dublino was disqualified and placed second in the 2002 American Oaks, but that was the inaugural running of that turf race for 3-year-old fillies, so it was not yet graded.
Owned by Nels Erickson and trained by Art Sherman, Ultra Blend picked up her 10th win in 21 starts and her second stakes success of the Spring/Summer meet. The 5-year-old daughter of Richly Blended and the Desert Classic mare Ankha had captured the B. Thoughtful for California breds April 23. She boosted her lifetime earnings to $625,646. The final time for the 1 1/16 miles over Cushion Track was 1:43.07.
Ridden for the first time by David Flores, Ultra Blend, who was dismissed at 8-1 – the biggest price she had been since she finished second at 19-1 in the Sandy Blue Handicap Aug. 21, 2009 at Del Mar – paid $18, $7.60 and $4.60. American Story, who wound up one length behind Ultra Blend after setting the pace for most of the trip, returned $6.80 and $4.40. She’s Cheeky, the longest shot in the field at nearly 75-1, paid $11.20 to show.
“He (Joe Talamo, the rider of St Trinians) kept putting pressure on us, but I don’t think he knew there were two other guys inside,’’ said Flores after his first victory in the Milady. “It looked like we were getting clear, but we weren’t clear yet. Anything can happen in this game. We had a sweet trip.
“I got through perfectly at the top of the stretch. It was just a matter that (St Trinians) had the momentum on the outside. She got maybe a neck in front of us and we couldn’t catch her.’’
Sherman indicated Ultra Blend could make her first appearance in a Grade I in the $250,000 Vanity Handicap June 18.
“We were sitting on the fence whether to run her here or in the California bred race (the $70,000 Fran’s Valentine, which will be run Sunday at one mile on turf), but it just meant so much more to have a graded stakes win.
“I’m so happy for (Nels Erickson) because she’s going to be bred to Big Brown the first of next year. When I was watching the race, I knew we had to check, but until you see the head-on shot, it’s hard to know where you’re at. I didn’t know who was causing it.
“That’s horse racing. You take it any way you can. You have to like this mare…she’s never off the board. Ever since she’s been a 2-year-old, she’s been one of my favorites.’’
Seeking her first win since the 2010 Santa Maria Handicap more than 15 months ago, St Trinians instead ended up off the board for only the fourth time in 16 career starts.
“She came over a little bit, but right when I felt her leaning in I grabbed her right away,’’ said Talamo. “I don’t think she deserved to be disqualified. The outcome should have stayed the same. What can you do?’’
There was also a claim of foul by Tyler Baze, the rider of Church Camp, who wound up last in the field of seven – reduced by the scratch of Makoma – against St Trinians for alleged stretch interference, but it was disallowed by the stewards.
In the day’s other graded event, May Day Rose completed a four win day for jockey Joel Rosario, easily taking the $100,000 Railbird Stakes.
Trained by Bob Baffert for owner Kaleem Shah, the 3-year-old Rockport Harbor filly out of the Pine Bluff mare May Day Bluff was dominant in earning her second victory in a Grade III. Earlier in the year, the Florida bred won the Santa Ysabel at Santa Anita.
Content to track the pace set by longshot Advantage Player, May Day Rose moved closer around the turn, then took charge early in the stretch en route to her second consecutive victory. May Day Rose had won the Instant Racing April 16 at Oaklawn Park.
The win was the fifth in nine starts for May Day Rose and her second in three tries over Cushion Track. She has a bankroll of $324,555.
Completing the seven furlongs in 1:22.26 while winning by 3 ¼ lengths, she paid $7, $3.40 and $2.20 as the 5-2 second choice. Big Tiz returned $4 and $2.40 and favored Pedaltothemedal, in search of her third win in succession, had to settle for third, 2 ¼ lengths behind Big Tiz. The show price on the 11-10 choice was $2.10.
Completing the order of finish were Hout Bay, Advantage Player and Warren’s Flyer. Alec’s Moon, Orientatious and Spectacular Sky were scratched.
Before winning the Railbird for the second time in four years – he also won with Million Dollar Run in 2008 – Rosario had assumed the lead in the jockey standings with victories aboard Photo Shopped in the second, Don Tito in the third and Master Chef in the fourth.
The defending champion at the Spring/Summer meet, Rosario has 22 wins through 19 racing days, three more than Rafael Bejarano and Talamo, who tripled Saturday.
“She can do anything,’’ said Rosario of May Day Rose. “She can go to the lead or come from behind. Turning for home she was traveling real nice and I had her on a long hold. I hadn’t even asked her to run yet. I knew I had a good chance from there. She was nice and relaxed and when I asked her to go, she drew away.’’
Although disqualified in the Milady with St Trinians, trainer Mike Mitchell did take the opener with favored Twodollarstowin. The victory was the 2,499th of his career. Mitchell’s only scheduled starter Sunday is One Bad Romance in the first race. Post time is 1 p.m.
There was one winning ticket in the Pick 6, which had a two-day carryover of $236,614. The ticket was worth $733,186. An additional $929,544 was wagered into the Pick 6 Saturday.
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