Favored Elusive Diva came off the hillside in a perfect position and drew away in the stretch for a three-length win in the $100,000 Senator Ken Maddy Handicap (gr. IIIT) on the turf Wednesday, opening day of the Oak Tree meeting at Santa Anita.
Ridden with confidence by Patrick Valenzuela, Elusive Diva broke sharply in the hillside turf event for fillies and mares, stalked the pace in third place, and edged into contention on the turn. The 4-year-old daughter of Elusive Quality
got the lead in upper stretch and finished as much the best under left-handed urging, clocking the about 6 1/2-furlong distance in 1:11 2/5.
"She ran real good, didn't she," asked Valenzuela, who has won all three times he has ridden Elusive Diva. "She broke sharp and sat behind the leader like I planned to do, then overtook them in the stretch."
Trained by Mark Glatt, Elusive Diva won her second grade III race of 2005 and third grade III overall, all on the Santa Anita hillside turf course. She improved her career record to 6-1-3 in 14 starts with earnings of $414,730. Susan and Allen Branch of Los Gatos, Calif., and breeders John and Doris Konecny of Enumclaw, Wash., own the winner, who had only one start since winning the Las Cienegas Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Santa Anita April 10.
"She got an infection in her (right) eye that had her out most of the summer and we don't know how that happened," Glatt said. "It formed a deep abscess that couldn't be resolved through antibiotics. We had to have an ophthalmologist do eye surgery in order to relieve the pressure of the abscess, but it's healed up good."
Glatt said he would point Elusive Diva to the Las Palmas Handicap (gr. IIT) at one mile on turf on Nov. 5.
Chasethegold, ridden by Garrett Gomez, closed willingly to finish a non-threatening second, one length in front of Abounding Truth, who could not hold off Elusive Diva in upper stretch. The pacesetting Bella Banissa faded after setting a lively pace of :21 4/5 and :43 4/5.
The 3-2 choice in the field of 11, Elusive Diva paid $5, $4 and $2.80. Chasethegold returned $12.20 and $8.80 and Abounding Truth was $7.40 to show.
Pickle finished fourth, followed by the 7-2 second favorite Shining Energy, The Yellow Sheet, Tara's Touch, Bella Banissa, Puxa Saco, Royal Wave, and Navaja.
Very Vegas, Valentine Dancer, and Ahuriri Hikawai all scratched.