Got Koko mounted a furious late rally and cruised to a 3 1/2-length victory in the $200,000 La Brea Stakes (gr. I) for 3-year-old fillies Saturday at Santa Anita Park.
With Alex Solis riding at 117 pounds, Got Koko, a 17-1 shot, ran seven furlongs in 1:22.57 and paid $36.60, $16.60 and $10.40. Bruce Headley is the trainer for owners Aase Headley and Paul Leung."Bruce and I have always thought she was a grade I filly and she proved it today," said Solis. "I'm surprised she didn't get more respect (than her 17-1 odds). I'm sure she'll handle the longer distances fine."
Spring Meadow, off at odds of 19-1 under Julie Krone, took the lead entering the stretch, but was unable to withstand the winner's rally and settled for second place. The runner-up carried 119 pounds and returned $15.60 and $9.20.
Erica's Smile, a 17-1 shot ridden by Laffit Pincay Jr. under 117 pounds, held on to finish third and paid $10.60 for show.
Bella Bellucci, You, Lacie Girl, Habibti, Lost At Sea, Dancing and Ms Louisett completed the order of finish.
You, the 4-5 betting favorite, dueled for the lead with Erica's Smile through a half-mile in :44.73, and faded in the stretch. You earned $4,000 for finishing fifth to increase trainer Bobby Frankel's 2002 earnings to $17,712,940. He needs to earn $129,418 over the final three days of the year to equal the record of $17,842,358 set by D. Wayne Lukas in 1988.
"Knock on wood, we'll continue on with her in the (La Canada) series as we did with Royally Chosen (last meet)," Headley said, referring to the next two legs, the El Encino Stakes (gr. II) on Jan. 19 and the La Canada (gr. II) on Feb. 8. "To beat a filly like You and Habibti and the other great fillies, it's really quite a thrill."Jockey Patrick Valenzuela, who was aboard You, said he was expecting a better effort."I was very disappointed in her performance," he said. "She was running easy on the backstretch, but when we got to the quarter-pole, she gave it up."
Solis, the leading rider at last year's Santa Anita meet with 76 wins, escaped serious injury in the race after the La Brea when his mount, Most Likely, broke down in mid-stretch. He was taken to Arcadia Methodist Hospital for precautionary X-rays.Frankel's horse Peace Rules won the $75,000 Hill Rise earlier on the card. But Frankel felt You would have to win the La Brea for him to break Lukas' longstanding earnings mark."If You can win it, then I got a good chance," he said. "If she don't win, I got no chance."
No one hit the Santa Anita Pick Six, creating a carry over of $160,167.29 to Sunday.(Chart, Equibase)