Odds-on choice Attima, given a confident armchair ride on the lead by Victor Espinoza, cruised to a 1 1/4-length win over Foxysox in the $137,150 Honeymoon Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. IIT) for 3-year-old fillies on the Hollywood Park turf Sunday.
Attima earned a spot in the $750,000 American Oaks (gr. I) July 2 with the victory, although trainer Julio Canani wasn't willing to commit to that race.
"The Oaks is in just 25 days," he told TVG, citing several other races later in the season. "That's not enough time. The first thing to me is the animal."
The 4-5 Attima notched her second Hollywood Park win since arriving in the United States from France. She spoiled a four-race winning streak in the U.S. for her fellow British-bred Foxysox, who had back-to-back grade III wins coming in. Foxysox carried 122 pounds, conceding four pounds to her rival as both fillies contested the nine-furlong distance for the first time.
Foxysox with regular rider Alex Bisono, grabbed the lead out of the gate but Attima, on her inside, took over a few jumps later and was never headed while quickly opening a two-length advantage. After setting fractions of :23 3/5, :47 4/5 and 1:11 4/5, the bay daughter of Zafonic had plenty left when Foxysox made her strong bid in upper stretch. Attima responded to a couple of light taps from Espinoza to open up again on Foxysox and swept under the wire under a long hold. The final time was 1:47 1/5.
"She does everything by herself, nice and easy," Espinoza said. "She took the lead without a problem. Most of the time somebody tries to go to the lead, but today it was like nobody wanted to go, so I thought we might as well take advantage while we can. But I was impressed. That's just the second time she's run over here in this country, and she proved that she can be one of the really nice fillies in her division."
As far as the American Oaks is concerned, Espinoza said he would definitely vote in favor.
"I think she's going to be really tough in there," he said. "She's definitely ready to go in that race. I don't know how much she really got out of this race, because she's just doing it so easy. I really don't know exactly how much she has because I've never really had a chance to ask anything. Until you have to push her button we really aren't going to know what we have, but I didn't want to test her today when I didn't have to."
Proxenia completed an English-bred sweep of the Honeymoon as she ran on for third under Alex Solis, finishing three lengths behind the winner.
Attima won one of five as a 2-year-old in France and was group III-placed at Longchamp before transferring the U.S. for owners Anthony Fanticola and Joseph Scardino. She won a first-level allowance turf race at one mile at Hollywood May 10, gearing down approaching the wire to win by 3 1/2 lengths in 1:34 1/5. Sunday's win, worth $82,290, improved her record to 3-2-0 in seven starts with earnings of $162,676.
She paid $3.60, $2.80 and $2.20. Foxysox, who was not excessively taxed by Bisono while second best, returned $3.40 and $2.40. She is expected to receive an invitation to the American Oaks. Proxenia, a maiden winner on the Santa Anita lawn at Sunday's nine-furlong distance, was $2.60 to show.
Galileo's Star finished fourth, followed by Royal Cheer, Harriett Lane and Arlene.