Northern California invader Pickle was in deep trouble with jockey Jon Court when graded stakes winner Makeup Artist found room to rally in deep stretch, but the British-bred filly made it to the wire just in time to win the $109,600 Wilshire Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Hollywood Park Saturday.
By the narrowest of noses, the Sandy Shulman-trained 4-year-old daughter of Piccolo prevailed in her first United States graded stakes attempt in a 9-1 surprise on the Inglewood turf. It was her third U.S. start after winning four of 15 in her native country.
"I felt like I had this photo, but not a half-jump later, I knew that I was beat," said Court. "But that's this filly – she always gives her all."
The winning time for the one-mile event was 1:33 4/5.
Pickle had the easier trip, reaching the lead while rallying gamely on the outside of traffic. It appeared Pickle would go onto a convincing win after taking command inside the eighth pole, but Makeup Artist, ridden by Victor Espinoza, kept coming, splitting horses after waiting for room past mid-stretch. She just missed while rallying on the inside of Pickle.
"For a moment, I thought I got it right on the wire, but I guess not," Espinoza said. "It was a little bit tight turning for home and she got a little intimidated when another rider passed by and swung a whip near her head. But once she was in the clear, she took off again. I think she would have won if that hadn't have happened."
French-bred Amorama, ridden by Alex Solis, finished well to get third, two lengths behind. Even-money favorite Mea Domina, Tyler Baze aboard, tiring after getting the lead in the stretch, finished fourth, nearly three lengths behind. Amorama and Mea Domina each carried top weight of 117 pounds, three more than the winner.
Pickle's biggest career win was worth $65,760 to owners Ron Charles and Clear Valley Stables. She was third, beaten by just a neck, in the 1 1/16-mile Miss America Handicap on a yielding Bay Meadows turf April 9. She now boasts lifetime earnings of $147,605.
"We were a little disappointed last time at Bay Meadows, thought she had hung," Shulman said. "We thought that she could have won that, and should have, but she just kind of hung. No excuse at all. But Jon felt real confident today, and he did a great job."
She paid $20.80, $9.40, and $5.20. Makeup Artist, who has now lost seven in a row since taking the 2003 Senorita (gr. IIIT) on the Hollywood Park turf, returned $6.80 and $3.60. Amorama was $3.40 to show.
After Mea Domina came Belle Ange, Antediluvian, Festival, and Five Nickels.
"She was really nervous today," Baze said of Mea Domina. "She ran her race before we left the gate. She's a really nice filly with a lot of talent, and she will win next time."