Las Cienegas DQ is Music to Their Ears

Las Cienegas DQ is Music to Their Ears
Photo: Benoit
Lightmyfirebaby (#6) finished second, but moved up to first after Bahama Mama (IRE) (#2) was disqualified and placed fifth for intereference entering the stretch.
Lightmyfirebaby gained victory in the roughly contested $112,700 Las Cienegas Handicap (gr. III) (VIDEO) when the front-running Bahama Mama ducked out severely on the synthetic main track portion of the hillside turf course at Santa Anita April 13, impeding three other horses.

Stewards took a long look at the stretch drive before placing the original winner, Irish-bred Bahama Mama, ridden by David Flores, in the fourth position behind the next three finishers for interference. Lightmyfirebaby, heavily favored Wake Up Maggie and Super Freaky were moved up ahead of Bahama Mama, creating a pop tune trifecta. The winning time for the about 6 1/2-furlong distance was a solid 1:13.25.

Trained by Barry Abrams, Lightmyfirebaby earned her first graded victory for the Richard J. O'Neill Trust and her second win down the hillside during the meet. The 5-year-old Unusual Heat mare won the Irish O'Brien Stakes over California breds March 17.

With two more victories on the Santa Anita program April 13, offspring of the sire Unusual Heat have won 24 races at the Arcadia track this season.

"It was a slam dunk," Abrams said of the stewards' decision. "We were head-to-head and suddenly we were a length-and-a-half behind. It was pretty obvious we were impeded."

Alex Solis, replacing Chantel Sutherland, piloted Lightmyfirebaby for the first time.

"David's horse sort of fishtailed (on the cutout) and ducked out," Solis said. "It happens sometimes."

The 20-1 shot Bahama Mama, a 4-year-old filly making her first U.S. start for trainer James Cassidy after racing in Europe her entire career, led the field all the way at a fast clip and came under the wire a length in front of Lightmyfirebaby prior to the DQ. Fractions were :22.17 for the opening quarter mile and :44.74 for the half.

But as they approached the cross-over point of the synthetic main track, Bahama Mama was under pressure from the eventual winner and Super Freaky on her immediate outside, while Wake Up Maggie, the 7-5 choice advanced into position while racing farther out coming off the turn. When Bahama Mama ducked out, she caused a chain reaction with the trailing trio. As the rivals straightened away for the stretch run, Bahama Mama had opened up on them by a couple of lengths. She held sway in the final furlong but the inquiry light flashed immediately.

Though she didn't get rolling until it was too late after the incident, the 5-year-old Irish-bred mare Wake Up Maggie, a two-time group III winner last year in Great Britain, showed her ability in defeat. Now trained by Julio Canani, she ran with Lasix for the first time.

Lightmyfirebaby, coming off a second-place finish at one mile on the turf against state breds April 6, improved her career mark to 5-2-2 in 17 starts with earnings of $293,546. The Las Cienegas victory was worth $67,620 to her connections. Three of Lightmyfirebaby's wins have come on the downhill turf course.

Out of the Valid Appeal mare True Melody, she was bred by David Abrams, Victor Johnson , Jack Nakkashian and Paul Wick.

Sent off as the sixth choice in a field of 11 older fillies and mares, the winner paid $21.60, $8.80 and $5.40. She combined with Wake Up Maggie ($4, $3), ridden by Tyler Baze, for a $2 exacta worth $76.80. Super Freaky, making her first start since Oct. 19 for trainer Doug O'Neill, was $6 to show with Corey Nakatani aboard. The $1 all-musical trifecta paid $239.60.

Lightmyfirebaby finished a neck in front of the runner-up with Super Freaky a head behind them. Wake Up Maggie and Super Freaky each carried 119 pounds, three more than Lightmyfirebaby.

In the official order, Bahama Mama was followed by a close-up Red Diadem, Macadamia, Stormin Mon, Shermeen, Good Mood, Justice Is Brief and Ingrid the Gambler. Pat the Cool Cat scratched.

(Chart, Equibase)

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