Pacesetter Dancing Edie survived an inquiry to win the $400,000 John C. Mabee Handicap (gr. IT) for fillies and mares by a nose over Moscow Burning on the Del Mar turf Saturday.
There was quite a bit of bumping during the stretch run between Dancing Edie, with Corey Nakatani aboard, and Island Fashion, ridden by Martin Pedroza on the outside of the eventual winner. In the meantime, Moscow Burning, with Norberto Arroyo Jr. in the irons, got the lead on the inside in the final stages. But Dancing Edie fought back in the last couple of jumps to win by a nose. Stewards ruled that the contact between Dancing Edie and Island Fashion was caused by both runners.
"She was getting bumped and banged and I was doing all I could to get her out of there," said Nakatani, who won the Mabee, previously known as the Ramona Handicap through 2001, four times. "But she was game and she kept running. You love it when they lay their body down like she did. It wasn't all me, though. Good horses make you look good."
Pedroza, though not happy with the stewards' decision on Island Fashion, said he respected it.
"I thought I was going to win, but she got just a little bit tired at the end," he said. "She ran great."
The California breds Dancing Edie and Moscow Burning are both daughters of Moscow Ballet. Dancing Edie was a five-pound overweight and carried 119 pounds, same as the assigned high weight Moscow Burning.
"(Moscow Burning) put her head in front and then the other horse might have gotten brave," Arroyo said. "Tough beat. What can you say?"
It was a neck back to Island Fashion in third with favored Amorama a head behind as the fourth horse on the line on the extreme outside. The winning time for the 1 1/8-mile event was 1:48 1/5.
The Craig Dollase-trained Dancing Edie was ultra-game in winning at the wire, but she probably won the first graded stakes race of her career in the first half-mile, Nakatani said afterward.
The 4-year-old bay filly broke best and had no pace rivals as she set tepid fractions of :24 2/5 for the opening quarter mile and :49 for the half while leading by nearly two lengths. Live Life, expected to provide the early pressure, broke last in the field of seven and trailed the field all the way down the backstretch. After six furlongs, Dancing Edie led in 1:13 1/5.
With three furlongs to go, Dancing Edie was challenged initally by Island Fashion, both racing off the rail. Moscow Burning, who saved ground all the way around, came through along the inside in upper stretch and the war was on. Nakatani asked Dancing Edie to show her best and she responded when headed in a stirring stretch battle.
"I was thinking back to a couple of years ago  when I got disqualified with Futural in the Hollywood Gold Cup (gr. I)," Dollase said after winning his first graded stakes at Del Mar. "It was a tough loss that day when he won so clearly. I was thinking, 'No, not again.' But it worked out well.
"I was a little worried, but when I saw the replay I thought some of the incidents happened after the finish. This filly (Dancing Edie) is a fighter. She was headed at the top of the lane, but she fought back in between horses. It was a very gutty win for her."
Owned by J. Paul Reddam, Julian Basin, Fast Lane Farms, et al, Dancing Edie won her third race in 14 starts and increased her earnings to $533,580 with the $240,000 earned for her first stakes win of any sort. She has four seconds and two thirds to go with her three wins. Fast Lane Farms bred Dancing Edie, who is out of Duchess of Ack, by Slewpy.
Dancing Edie ran second in the 1 1/8-mile Gamely Breeders' Cup (gr. IT) at Hollywood Park May 29. In her next start July 1, also at Hollywood, she finished fourth, 2 1/2 lengths behind Dance in the Mood, in the one-mile Cash Call Mile (gr. IIIT).
The third choice, Dancing Edie paid $10, $5.80 and $4. Moscow Burning, a winner of more than $1.3 million who ran too good to lose, returned $6.60 and $4.40. Island Fashion, who has still not won since 2004, was $5.20 to show.
Amorama, the 5-2 favorite, was followed by Memorette, Live Life and Katdogawn.