Victor Espinoza, subbing for the injured Corey Nakatani, who broke a clavicle in a training accident this morning, gave the 6-1 shot Trick's Pic a confident ride in his first try aboard the 5-year-old Favorite Trick mare. The Joseph Lacombe homebred earned her first graded stakes win by two lengths in the one-mile event for older fillies and mares.
O'Neill, who took over training of the dark bay from Jenine Sahadi less than a month ago, won his third consecutive race on the Santa Anita card.
"I didn't have her very long," the trainer told HRTV. "Victor gave her a nice ride. We were bummed that Corey got hurt this morning, but the owners are giving him 5 percent of the purse. She ran dynamite."
Trick's Pic had been well beaten in her prior two starts and was taking a dip in class for the Tuzla.
Espinoza placed Trick's Pic in fourth around the clubhouse turn, well off a strong pace established by Live Life and Unspoken Word, who swapped the lead through fractions of :23 1/5, :46 and 1:10 1/5. Down the backstretch, the field was widely strung out as Trick's Pic ran uncovered in fourth. On the final turn, she began to close in as the field bunched. She had the tiring leaders in her sights at the top of the stretch. Trick's Pic surged to the lead mid-stretch and won going away in a time of 1:35.09.
"She came out of the gate running, but I dropped the reins and she settled on her own," Espinoza said. "The speed in the race helped me. They came back, and it worked out.”
The 21-1 outsider I Can See, ridden by Jon Court, rallied from last at the quarter pole to defeat the 5-2 favorite Good Mood, with Michael Baze aboard, by 3 1/4 lengths for second.
Trick's Pic was graded stakes-placed twice last year when conditioned by Patrick Biancone. She transferred to the West Coast last fall and finished second in Oak Tree's one-mile Swingtime at Santa Anita Oct. 8. In two starts for Sahadi, she finished sixth in Santa Anita's Las Palmas Handicap (gr. IIT) Nov. 4 and eighth -- after pressing the pace at odds of 54-1 -- in the 1 1/16-mile Dahlia Handicap (gr. IIT) at Hollywood Park six weeks later.
Floridian Lacombe, on hand for the race, said he was thrilled with her victory. "Absolutely, especially coming from Favorite Trick," he said.
The Kentucky-bred Trick's Pic is out of Nice Pic, a daughter of Piccolino. The victory, worth $66,180, was her fifth in 20 lifetime starts. She has banked $260,288 in her career. Trick's Pic has now won two of five starts at the one-mile turf distance.
Sent off as the fifth choice in a field of eight, Trick's Pic carried 115 pounds to victory and paid $14.40, $7.40, and $5. I Can See, coming off a second-place finish in the one-mile Intercontinental Handicap at Hollywood Park, returned $18.80 and $8.80 while completing a $2 exacta worth $207.20. The Irish-bred Good Mood nosed Shermeen for third, paying $3.60. Then came Audacious Chloe, Unspoken Word, Political Web, and Live Life.
Private Banking scratched.