Gorgeous Goose, ridden by Corey Nakatani, emerged from mid-pack in the stretch to collar odds-on choice Diamond Diva, winning the $100,000 Wilshire Handicap (gr. IIIT) (VIDEO) in an 11-1 upset on the Hollywood Park turf course May 2.
It was the first graded stakes win for the 4-year-old Florida-bred daughter of Mongoose. It provided a measure of consolation to Nakatani, who lost out on his Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) mount earlier in the week when Square Eddie was withdrawn from the race due to an ankle injury. Gorgeous Goose, who passed five horses in the stretch, defeated the multiple graded winner Diamond Diva by three-quarters of a length in the one-mile test for fillies and mares.
The win was the third of the day for Nakatani, who had an abbreviated campaign in 2008 due to a pair of collarbone injuries.
"Last year we went through a lot of issues health-wise, broken bones and all that good stuff," said Nakatani. "We're just trying to get healthy and back on track. I'm feeling good and getting to ride for top outfits again. I'll be all right."
Diamond Diva, returning to action as the 9-10 choice following a 10-month layoff due to a suspensory injury, turned in an encouraging performance for trainer James Cassidy even though the 5-year-old mare was unable to hold off Gorgeous Goose. Ridden by David Flores, the British-bred finished second by three parts of a length over Charming Legacy, who pressed the pace under Tyler Baze.
"She ran great," Flores said of Diamond Diva. "She was on the bridle all the way. I wait, and wait and wait as much as I could but she just got a little tired. She'll be good to go next time.”
Gorgeous Goose was coming off a fifth-place finish in the Las Cienegas Handicap (gr. IIIT) on Santa Anita's hillside turf course. She appreciated the extra distance of the Wilshire, clocking a sharp time of 1:34.54 over firm going.
In My Glory set a solid pace -- :23.86, :47.32 and 1:10.93 -- before fading late as Charming Legacy and Diamond Diva stalked. Diamond Diva, racing along the inside, came three wide in the stretch to gain a short advantage mid-stretch. She fought back when challenged by the surging Gorgeous Goose, but gave way in deep stretch while holding second.
Owned by Mary Anne Denes and Mary Ellen Woelfel, who co-bred her in Florida, Gorgeous Goose won for the fourth time in 14 lifetime starts while increasing her career earnings to $223,574 with the winning purse of $60,000. The gray/roan filly won the Blue Norther at Santa Anita in December 2007 and was beaten a nose in the Harold C. Ramser (gr. IIIT) before taking a vacation last fall. Both of those efforts were at the one-mile distance on the grass.
“Corey rode a perfect race," winning trainer Mike Puype said. "She showed good talent in the race before the layoff when she got beat a nose over at Santa Anita. The race down the hill when she came back was outstanding.
"In her last race she lost all momentum when she came across the dirt. She skipped wide to the right and lost all chance at that point. The odds were a little inflated today based on that particular situation, but she ran really good today. She had good pace to run at and she ran really well.”
Sent off as the fourth choice in the field of nine, Gorgeous Goose carried 118 pounds and paid $25.80, $8.80 and $5.20. Diamond Diva, the 120-pound high weight, returned $2.80 and $2.60 in her first start since being injured while winning the CashCall Mile (gr. IIT) at Hollywood July 5. Charming Legacy was $5.20 to show. A winning $2 exacta was worth $92.60.
Bel Air Sizzle finished fourth, followed by Belmont Cat, Miss Singhsix, Kayd Kodaun, Tizfiz and In My Glory.
Gorgeous Goose is out of the Big Spruce mare Gorgeous Me.