Overlooked in a field boasting strong international favor, Southern California-based Ticker Tape blew off the final turn with gusto to run down pacesetting Western Hemisphere and favored Dance in the Mood in the $750,000 American Oaks (gr. IT) on the Hollywood Park turf Saturday.
Ridden Kent Desormeaux for trainer James Cassidy and owners Jim Ford, Daron Pearson and Jack Sweesy, Ticker Tape registered her first graded stakes victory in the prestigious Oaks, which was granted grade I status this year, the first time it was eligible. The English-bred daughter of Royal Applause-Argent Du Bois (Silver Hawk) completed the 1 1/4-mile test for 3-year-old fillies in 2:01 2/5.
Ticker Tape topped the Japanese star Dance in the Mood, the 7-5 choice in the field of 13, by a length. Hollywood Story finished two lengths farther behind in third, a length ahead of the pace maker, Western Hemisphere.
Sent off at 12-1, Ticker Tape, who started her career in England before transferring to the United States for her 3-year-old season, atoned for a couple of disappointing recent efforts at Hollywood. She was second, beaten a head in the Senorita (gr. IIIT) May 15 and then ran fourth, losing by 1 3/4 lengths to Oaks foes Lovely Rafaela and Western Hemisphere, as the 11-10 choice in the 1 1/8-mile Honeymoon Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. IIT). Desormeaux came in for some criticism after that race for allowing Ticker Tape to fall way off the pace.
"I really felt that the Honeymoon was a race I had to toss out because of what happened with no speed in the race," said Cassidy, who won his first grade I race.
"But then at the same time it helped me, because I told Kent 'If that's all the speed ... I can't see any more speed in here than what was in the Honeymoon. We need to be about three or four lengths off of it. Hopefully they won't go crazy, and if we're coming home at the top of the stretch I'm going to be one happy camper.' And that's the way it worked out. And you know as well as I do, sometimes those things work out, but most of the time they don't."
They were much closer Saturday, stalking in fourth as Western Hemisphere, prompted by Western Ransom, made her way through fractions of :24 1/5, :49, 1:14 and 1:38 1/5. Dance in the Mood, ridden by legendary jockey Yutaka Take, was also stalking in third, inside of Ticker Tape.
Ticker Tape edged up on the outside of the leaders on the home turn and quickened to the lead heading into the stretch, kicking clear by about three lengths while drifting inward under urging from Desormeaux. She held on gamely over Dance in the Mood, who could not catch the winner after tugging her way into contention for Take.
Trainer Kazuo Fujisawa noted that Dance in the Mood is "not used to tight turns. She has lot of speed so she is hard to hold. She's a very fast filly. I'm proud we were invited to this race to show Sunday Silence's daughter. "
Desormeaux said he enjoyed a tactical advantage.
"She settled in behind the Japanese horse (Dance in the Mood) and it looked like the rider had a lot of horse," Desormeaux said. "So I just tried to stay alongside him (Yutaka Take) as long as I could. Once we cornered for home, I just went for broke. I was trying to just steal off while (Dance in the Mood) was trapped behind horses. The end result is that this filly is capable of doing things like that."
"The outside horse (Ticker Tape) had me covered up and I couldn't move," Take said. "I had to wait for at least 100 meters. She came out and finished very well. If my horse and the winner switch positions, I feel I would have won. She finished very well."
Hollywood Story, a grade I winner at 2 making her first start on the grass with Danny Sorenson subbing for suspended Patrick Valenzuela, was forced to wait for room on the turn and finished well after swinging out for her run in the stretch.
David Flores was disappointed in Western Hemisphere's fourth-place finish after she showed the way into the stretch.
"I think they might have softened the course, and that was against us today," Flores complained. "I think they probably keep it soft for the European horses, and that's good to bring the business. But my filly likes a firm course, and she didn't get it today."
Trainer Bob Baffert said the plan was to steal the race with Western Hemisphere if they could.
"If it was it's usual Hollywood green dirt that we usually run on, I think we could have," he added.
Amorama, Mambo Slew, Boulevardofdreams, Eternal Melody, Misty Heights, Western Ransom, Steel Princess, Lovely Rafaela and French Lady completed the order. Sagitta Ra scratched.
Ticker Tape earned $450,000 while improving her U.S. record to three wins and three seconds in seven outings. Her career bankroll stands at $717,426 with a record of 5-5-1 in 14 starts.
The winner paid $26, $6.80 and $6. Dance in the Mood returned $3.60 and $3. Hollywood Story was $8 to show. The exacta was worth $47.70.