Jockey Joe Talamo enjoyed a golden trip aboard the Jeff Mullins trainee, guiding the California-bred daughter of Bertrando to a 1 1/4-length victory in the 1 1/16-mile event for 3-year-old fillies. Michael House's bay filly, a maiden winner over state breds at Hollywood Park Dec. 21, raced beyond seven furlongs for the first time in her four-race career.
Grace Anatomy was a clear second by nearly four lengths, with pacesetting Kazamira third. The Santa Ysabel was originally scheduled for Jan. 5 but was rescheduled when Santa Anita canceled racing during a three-day period due to unsafe track conditions.
Juddmonte Farm's Turn Away, the 3-5 favorite in a field of six, was eased in the stretch but finished the race for jockey Rafael Bejarano. She did not return to be unsaddled and was vanned off the track. Stewards reported that the Empire Maker filly was slightly off in her right hind and was returned to trainer Bobby Frankel’s barn at Santa Anita.
Final Fling, a $100,000 Barretts purchase as a 2-year-old in May, broke her maiden by a head last time out as a heavy favorite, but Mullins said it was a mistake.
"We got our signals crossed," he said, explaining that they wanted to run in a state-bred stakes race but could not get out of the maiden race. "Actually, the timing for this race when it came up was a little too quick, but with the cancellation of races, it gave her a little more time and we got another work in her at Hollywood. We knew what we had. She's awesome."
Talamo has enjoyed a pretty good week. He broke out of a slump with his seventh win of the week, celebrated his 18th birthday Jan. 12, and had a hole-in-one playing golf.
"So far, so good," he deadpanned.
Talking about Final Fling, Talamo said, "This filly is push button, everything a jockey wants in a horse. When we turned for home, I just let her do her thing. Jeff has been very patient with her, and he’s turned her around from being a sprint filly to what you saw today."
Kazamira, ridden by Mike Smith, gained the lead shortly after the break, quickly opening up a 1 1/2-length advantage over Grace Anatomy and Turn Away, who raced three wide down the backstretch. Fractions were realistic, considering how fast the Santa Anita Cushion Track has been playing -- :23 2/5, :47 and 1:11 -- before Kazamira gave way in the stretch. Grace Anatomy, ridden by Garrett Gomez took over mid-stretch. But Final Fling, saving ground all the way when shifted to the inside shortly after the start, angled out and responded to urging to gain the lead close to home. The final time was 1:41.96.
Final Fling earned $65,340 for her second win. She has banked $104,814. William R. Peeples bred the bay filly. She is out of the Java Gold mare Lily La Belle.
Sent off as the second longest shot in the field, Final Fling paid $23.40, $8, and $8.20 and topped a $2 exacta worth $113.80. Grace Anatomy, in her best effort since running third in Keeneland's Alcibiades (gr. I) last fall, returned $5.80 and $7. Kazamira, facing winners for the first time, was $8 to show.
Rareville, Initiation, and Turn Away trailed.