Avenge gets back in winner’s circle with Rodeo Drive repeat

Avenge gets back in winner’s circle with Rodeo Drive repeat
Avenge gets back in winner’s circle with Rodeo Drive repeat

Rising star Flavien Prat notched his third Grade I win on the day and Hall of Fame conditioner Richard Mandella got his second, as Avenge successfully defended her title in Saturday’s Grade I, $300,000 Rodeo Drive Stakes, winning by three quarters of a lengths while negotiating a mile and a quarter on turf in 1:58.74.

With favored Goodyearforroses seemingly cruising to her immediate outside three furlongs from home, Avenge lengthened her stride and marched to an impressive victory—her first since taking the 2016 Rodeo Drive four starts back.

The 2-1 second choice in a field of nine fillies and mares three and up, Avenge paid $6.00, $4.00 and $3.00.

Owned by Ramona Bass, the 5-year-old mare by War Front got her seventh win from 16 starts and with the winner’s share of $180,000, increased her earnings to $868,341.

Early pacesetter Goldy Espony, ridden by Mike Smith, dropped back a bit at the rail around the far turn as it appeared the winner and Goodyearforroses would dispute the outcome, but she kept to her task and finished second by a nose over Responsibleforlove.

Off at 12-1, Goldy Espony paid $9.60 and $6.40.

Ridden by Joe Talamo, Responsibleforlove was far back early, surged late and just missed the place, finishing a nose in front of Amboseli for third money. Off at 11-1, Responsibleforlove paid $6.00 to show.

Fractions on the race were 23.72, 47.50, 1:11.34 and 1:34.52.

Flavien Prat, winning jokcey: “Three Grade I’s, that’s the first time for me. My filly was nice and relaxed. When Nakatani (Corey, aboard favored Goodyearforroses)) came to me at the three eighths, my filly grabbed the bit, but she stayed relaxed. I was a little surprised the other filly stopped like she did, but it worked out good for us. My filly kept running.”

Mike Smith, second: “You know, early on in her career she was certainly capable of beating these kinds of horses. She hadn’t shown this kind of run in a while. She was off almost two years prior to her last race and ran well but got very tired. I just didn’t know what to expect with this field so I feel like I won. I’m very, very pleasantly surprised that we got second in a group race.”

Corey Nakatani, eighth:“We were traveling really well and then we engaged with the winner. That horse of Mandella’s was really running. I saw Mandella’s horse came home in 58 and that’s moving for a mile and quarter. My horse was a little too keen today. We clipped heels a couple of times and I had to turn her off. She’ll be fine.”

Richard Mandella, winning trainer: “This feels very good. This is what we do this for. I was impressed that she settled off the leader and that she had such a good finish.

“I felt better about it at the quarter pole. When she exploded away from there, you could tell it was working. But she’s run so well on the lead, I wasn’t looking to change it, but Baffert’s horse took the place we were thinking of.

“It’s been frustrating because we couldn’t quite get her back to herself until now but, I think we do have her now and we hope we’re in as good of shape as we did last year.”

Source: Santa Anita Park

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