Owner/breeder Janis R. Whitham and Hall of Fame trainer Ron McAnally doubled their pleasure Monday when their Mea Domina held on to beat entry mate Solar Echo in the $441,500 Gamely Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. IT) on the Hollywood Park turf.
Nursed along on the lead by Tyler Baze, Mea Domina was winning her first graded stakes race by a half-length under urging over the strong-closing Solar Echo, who recorded her second grade I placing with David Flores aboard. The entry went off as the slight 2-1 favorite. Amorama closed from well back to finish third with Rene Douglas.
The time for the 1 1/8-mile event on firm going was 1:46 2/5.
Mea Domina, a 4-year-old filly by Dance Brightly-Madame Pandit (Wild Again), was coming off a fourth-place finish – beaten by 2 3/4 lengths after getting the lead and wilting late – in the one-mile Wilshire Handicap (gr. IIIT) April 23. She pulled in that race when Baze attempted to keep her in hand and was in tight in the stretch. Her only previous graded stakes try resulted in a sixth-place finish as a 3-year-old in last year's La Brea (gr. I).
"We thought it might go this way," McAnally said after capturing his first Gamely. "I told both boys to just keep them relaxed if they could. I told Jan (Whitham) that we had a good chance as long as Mea Domina stayed relaxed, and she did."
McAnally said this may be the last time his fillies face each other for awhile.
"I'm going to try to separate them," he said. "I was going to try and separate them this time, believe it or not ... and then I thought 'well, we're going to give (Mea Domina) another chance.' Because she did get really wound up last time, and we schooled her and schooled her and schooled her in between races, and I think that is why she was more relaxed today."
Miss Terrible broke a tad slowly but was quickly up to challenge Mea Domina, who set solid fractions of :23 1/5, :46 3/5 and 1:09 4/5. Second choice Nadeszhda, always close to the pace for Juan Garcia, continued to press Mea Domina into the stretch but could not mount a serious threat and dropped back to finish seventh. The gray Solar Echo, a daughter of Spinning World, was getting to the winner with every stride as Mea Domina started to lug out, but she ran out of room. It was about a length farther back to Amorama.
"Once we got to where we cross the inside rail where the chute is, she just relaxed and took a nice big breath, and it was wonderful," Baze said. "She went in there, ran a good race, lugged out a little bit, but got the job done. I saw the other horse (Solar Echo) about four jumps before the wire, but mine is hard trying filly, and I thank Mr. McAnally for letting me ride her."
Mea Domina recorded her fifth win in 10 lifetime starts to go with three second-place finishes. The purse, $276,900, increased her earnings to $472,676.
The entry paid $6.60, $5.60 and $4. Amorama returned $9.20 and completed a $50.40 exacta.
Baze won his third straight race on the Hollywood Park card.
Uraib was fourth, followed by Miss Terrible, Halo Ola, Nadeszhda, Island Fashion and Flip Flop.