Helen Alexander and Helen Groves’ rising star Acoma notched her third consecutive graded stakes victory March 8 at Oaklawn Park, coming from off the pace to score a five-length win in the $144,000 Azeri Stakes (gr. III) (VIDEO).
Ridden perfectly by Julien Leparoux, who flew in from California one day after guiding Einstein to a victory in the Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I), Acoma was content to sit well back of a quick pace set by Devil House. The 4-year-old Empire Maker filly began advancing on the far turn, angled out for the drive and ate up ground with huge strides once hitting the straightaway. She took over from a tiring Devil House and Bear Now approaching the sixteenth-pole and won going away.
The final time for 1 1/16 miles on the fast main track was a superb 1:42.55. Bear Now was a clear second under Jamie Theriot, 1 1/2 length better than Devil House and Calvin Borel.
Acoma, who was bred in Kentucky by her owners, is out of the Danzig mare Aurora. She is trained by David Carroll.
The winner entered the Azeri off of consecutive graded stakes wins on the turf. She won the Valley View Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Keeneland in October and three weeks later took the Mrs. Revere Stakes (gr. IIT) at Churchill Downs. Both of them were at 1 1/16 miles and under Leparoux. She also won the Dogwood Stakes (gr. III) back in May on the Churchill main track. This was her 4-year-old debut.
Acoma is now 6-1-1 from nine lifetime starts with earnings of $480,260.
Devil House ensured Acoma a quick pace to run at in the Azeri, breaking from post two and blistering splits of :22.61, :45.89, and 1:10.30 while Bear Now stayed right on her heels. Smart Surprise, Maren’s Meadow, and Initforthekandy raced in the next group.
Sent off as the favorite in a field of eight, Acoma paid $5, $2.80 and $2.60. The exacta (1-3) paid $27, while the trifecta (1-3-2) returned $120.