Thanks to a well-timed ride from Tyler Baze, Old Friends Inc.'s Quero Quero hit the front at just the correct moment to upset favored Atlantic Ocean by a neck in Saturday's $215,950 Honeymoon Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. IIT) for 3-year-old fillies on the Hollywood Park turf.
Quero Quero, a Kentucky bred by Royal Academy trained by Paulo Lobo, carried 113 pounds, eight less than the top-weighted Atlantic Ocean, and took full advantage. The final time for the 1 1/8-mile Honeymoon was 1:49 1/5 on a firm course.
The winner rallied four-wide in the stretch from fifth position after rating behind pacesetter Shapes And Shadows through fractions of :24 4/5, :49 4/5, 1:14 and 1:37 2/5. Atlantic Ocean, who was stuck inside with jockey Patrick Valenzuela in third, was unable to make her move until angling out in the stretch, putting her head in front briefly in mid-stretch. But she could not outfinish the game winner in the closing strides.
Sharpbill, ridden by Matt Garcia, kept Atlantic Ocean hemmed inside while keeping the pressure on the front-running Shapes And Shadows. She held on for third, 1 1/2-length behind the first two finishers and a half-length in front of Shapes And Shadows.
Quero Quero was coming off a maiden victory at Hollywood at one mile on the turf. She had been close in three previous tries, including a narrow third-place finish in the California Oaks on the Golden Gate Fields main track in March. Overall she has a 5-2-2-1 record while earning $130,170 for the triumph.
Out of the Great Above mare Big Dreams, Quero Quero was bred by John R. Gaines Thoroughbreds and S.A. Pacelco. She was purchased for $55,000 in the Keeneland September Yearling Sale of 2001.
Sent off at 10-1 in the 10-horse field that included two coupled entries, Quero Quero paid $22.60, $7.80 and $5.80. Atlantic Ocean, who was bidding for her second consecutive victory on the Hollywood lawn, returned $3.40 and $2.80 as the 9-5 favorite. Sharpbill showed for $9.80. The $2 exacta was worth $72.40.
In an earlier feature, the $106,800 Desert Stormer Handicap (gr. III) for fillies and mares, Madame Pietra went from last to first to defeat Bear Fan by three-quarters of a length. Jetinto Houston, the 2-1 favorite in the field of six, was three lengths farther back in third.
Valenzuela rode Madame Pietra, who toted top weight of 121 pounds while winning for the fourth straight time. She was sent off at 6-1 and won the six-furlong test in 1:09 3/5.
Jetinto Houston set a wicked pace of :21 3/5 and :43 3/5 before giving way to Bear Fan, who held the lead in the stretch until Madame Pietra rallied up late.
Madame Pietra, a 6-year-old mare by Roy owned by C. T. Grether, Inc. and trained by Howard Zucker, earned $64,080 for her seventh win in 16 starts. The Florida bred now boasts earnings of $437,215.
The winner paid $14.20, $5.80 and $3.60. Bear Fan, ridden by C.C. Bourque, returned $4.40 and $3.20. Jetinto Houston showed for $2.80. The $2 exacta was worth $64.20.