The first of four races from Santa Anita in the Sunshine Millions for California and Florida breds was run after officials cleared the non-draining Cushion Track for use in the morning, following heavy rains this week.
Winner of the La Brea Stakes (gr. I) in her last start, Dearest Trickski has developed into an absolute speed freak for leading trainer John Sadler. All five of her wins during the current streak have come on the front end, four of them on synthetic racing surfaces.
Facing a line-up laden with early lick this time, no one could go with the odds-on choice Dearest Trickski, though defending race champion Shaggy Mane and Cher Ami tried. Dearest Trickski carved fractions of :20.52 and :43.39 for the opening half-mile, then bounded away from Cher Ami leaving the quarter pole to open a four-length lead mid-stretch. She came home 4 1/4 lengths ahead of the slowly closing Dixie Dreamer in an adjusted final time of 1:07.66 for the six furlongs.
“She has really moved forward since she got over here on these synthetic racetracks," Smith noted. "You just look at her, she looks the picture of health. She has been training amazingly, and she ran that way. She’s just about the quickest thing I’ve ever been on. They just don’t come any quicker than that.
"She’s like a deer leaving the gate. She runs ’em off their feet, relaxes, and then she’s got another gear. She is fa-a-a-s-st, and she could have gone faster. When (Cher Ami) came at her, it kicked that second quarter up kind of quick. What’s good about her is that, when she hits the front again, she’ll prick her ears, take a breath, and get some more air to finish. She is remarkable.”
Smith said the track was playing firm but safe. “The main thing is, it is uniform and very even. The crew did an unbelievable job getting this track ready today.”
A Florida-bred daughter of Proudest Romeo, the 4-year-old filly was claimed by Sadler on behalf of Tom Mankiewicz for $32,000 at Del Mar Aug. 4. She hasn't lost since.
"I habitually call John (about horses to claim)," Mankiewicz said, adding that his suggestions are usually rejected. "About this horse he said, 'Let's go with her. As every owner knows, I did nothing. They've done a wonderful job with her."
Sadler said he had no idea what he had when he claimed Dearest Trickski, who was claimed for as little as $10,000 at Lone Star Park last April. "We're just enjoying the ride," he said.
Dearest Trickski improved her lifetime record to 9-2-0 in 13 starts with earnings of $445,500. She earned $165,000 in the Sunshine Millions. Going back to her claim at Lone Star, she has won eight of nine starts.
Dr. K.K. Jayaraman and Dr. V. Devi Jayaraman bred the bay filly. She is out of Trickski, by Peteski.
The winner paid $3.60, $3, and $2.40. Dixie Dreamer, ridden by Eddie Castro for trainer Marty Wolfson, returned $8.80 and $6.80. It was one length back to Prime Catch, piloted by David Flores. Prime Catch paid $3.80 to show in her stakes debut for trainer Bob Baffert.
Sekira ran fourth, followed by Shaggy Mane, Coli Bear, Cher Ami, and More Angels. Lady Gamer and Tiz Elemental scratched.