Four-year-old filly Barbara O'Brien scored her first graded stakes victory, taking the $100,000 Chaposa Springs Handicap (gr. III) at Calder during Grand Slam I on Saturday.
She defeated Holy Bubbette by 5 ¼ lengths with Splasha another length back in third. The Florida-bred daughter of Eltish is owned by Double S Stable, Ken Avanzino and Ed Wachtel and is trained by Harry Benson. She was ridden to victory by Eibar Coa, who notched his fourth win of the afternoon in the Chaposa Springs.
"She reared up and flipped back while she was being saddled on the dirt path leading up to the paddock, where we have special permission to saddle her," Benson noted. "She's as bad and goofy as they come, although she stands in the stall and trains just lovely, but as soon as you put her in that bridle, she just has an aversion to it. The two times she's been really bad, though, she has won."
Local division leader Chispiski set a hot pace in the seven-furlong race, seeking to defend her title in the event. After posting swift fractions of 22, 44 4/5 and 1:10 2/5, Chispiski was passed by the eventual winner and several others and crossed the wire in sixth position. Barbara O'Brien completed the distance in 1:23 2/5.
Barbara O'Brien made a three-wide move on the turn and charged to the front in upper stretch, drawing away at the end.
"She's a difficult horse because she gets so excited before the race," Coa said. "You never know how she will act in the race. She came out good but you always think she's going to get short ... because she's always sweaty before the race. Today she broke so good, but I let Chispiski go in front like always. I decided to put some pressure on her earlier at the half-mile pole. I tried to get close to her because I didn't want her to steal the race like she does. That was my plan and it worked out good for me. At the quarter pole she took off."
The winner's share of the purse pushed her career bankroll to $205,695. She improved to 5-4-0 in 12 career starts after fading to seventh in her most recent start at 1 1/16 mile.
Sent off at odds of 5-to-1, Barbara O'Brien paid $13.20, 5.60 and 4.40. Holy Bubbette, the slight 3-1 favorite with Jerry Bailey aboard in a field of 12, returned $4.60 and $3.80. Splasha's show was $5.60. The $2 exacta was worth $68.40.