Cees Stable's Cee's Elegance scored her first stakes victory Sunday at Hollywood Park, surprising heavy favorite Super High with a romping win in the $100,000-added Cat's Cradle Handicap for California bred fillies and mares.
The 5-year-old Cee's Tizzy gray mare covered the 7 1/2-furlong distance in 1:29.32 under jockey Victor Espinoza, a last-hour replacement for David Flores, who was apparently delayed in his return from Japan. She ended an 11-race losing streak.
Super High, the 3-5 public choice, finished fourth after prompting the pace along with Cee's Elegance. After splits of :22.31 and :45.11, Cee's Elegance, trained by Doug O'Neill, pounced on front-running Hadl on the turn for home. After floating a bit in the stretch, she got a reminder to keep going from Espinoza and distanced herself from the Castling and late-running Elaine's Angel, who finished second and third, respectively. Super High, who defeated Elaine's Angel, Castling and Cee's Elegance in the $150,000 Cal Cup Matron at Santa Anita Nov. 2, offered no rally in the stretch.
Bella Bella Bella, making her first start since April 28 for new trainer Simon Bray, was not a factor.
Cee's Elegance won her fourth race in 26 career starts and for the first time in seven starts this year. Often close – she has 17 career in-the-money performance – the $60,000 first-place purse improved her career bankroll to about $310,000.
O'Neill said he tabbed Espinoza to ride about 40 minutes before the race, when it appeared Flores would not get to the track in time. O'Neill, who took over for Jay Robbins with Cee's Elegance this year, said he wasn't overconfident with her but felt she was compromised in the Matron by a bad break.
"We've had a couple of tries in long sprints like this and she hasn't won, so we were a little concerned about the distance," O'Neill said. "But Victor did a great job with her."
Sent off at 5-1 in the field of six, Cee's Elegance paid $13.40, $5.60 and $5.80. Castling returned $12.60 and $10.40. Elaine's Angel paid $4.20.