At the top of the Santa Anita stretch Saturday's $200,000 La Brea Stakes (gr. I) looked like it would be decided by one of three 3-year-old fillies dueling for the lead. Then in mid-stretch, Affluent burst from the trailing pack to rush by the top three en route to winning the seven-furlong main track test by 1 1/2 lengths under Eddie Delahoussaye.
"I really didn't want to be that far out of it down the backside, but I said to my self that if I change my way of riding, and she doesn't finish, then I'd be worse off than if I did the right thing," said Delahoussaye. "If I ride her the right way, and she comes runnin', then we still have a chance to get there. And she just blew by 'em at the sixteenth-pole. If I'd have changed my tactics, I probably wouldn't have won, because I'd have been playing their game."
Affluent was 10th of 12 horses after the opening quarter-mile as 48-1 longshot Royally Chosen rushed up for the lead after breaking from the extreme outside post. 12-5 favorite Above Perfection edged in front of Royally Chosen in the subsequent quarter as Love At Noon stalked the leaders from third place. Love At Noon swept into the stretch outside Above Perfection and Royally Chosen before Affluent made her winning move approaching the wire.
On the fast track drying out from earlier rain, Affluent completed the seven furlongs in 1:21.29.
Royally Chosen finished second, a nose-length in front of Love At Noon. Warren's Whistle closed for fourth, finishing a head in front of Above Perfection and 1 1/2 lengths behind Love At Noon. Freefourracing, Graceful Cat, Rolly Polly, Cindy's Hero, Mon Ange, Hall of Gold, and Little Hottie completed the order of finish.
With the win, Janis R. Whitham homebred Affluent becomes a grade I winner on both turf and dirt and the second grade I winner of the Santa Anita meet switching from turf to dirt. In her most recent race prior to the La Brea, Affluent won the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup Stakes (gr. IT) on a good turf course at Keeneland. On Wednesday at Santa Anita, Mizzen Mast won the Malibu Stakes (gr. I) in his first career start on dirt.
Affluent previously established her main track form with a 2 1/2-length victory in the Hollywood Oaks (gr. II) in July. The La Brea is the third stakes win for the Ron McAnally-trained Affluent (Affirmed--Trinity Place, by Strawberry Road) and her first at a distance less than nine furlongs. #-year-old Affluent earned $120,000 for her fifth win in 11 career starts.
Affluent was sent off at odds of 4-1 and returned $10, $6.20, and $3.60. Royally Chosen paid $31.40 and $11.20 and completed the $1 exacta worth $138.60. Love At Noon paid $3.80.
According to their trainers, both Affluent and Love At Noon will be pointed toward the second race in the La Canada series, the 1 1/16-mile El Encino Stakes (gr. II, Jan. 20).
Earlier on the card, Laffit Pincay Jr. helped make his 55th birthday a celebratory occasion by booting home two winners. His all-time leading wins total now stands at 9,276. Pincay also received the Golden Whip Award for winning the 2001 Winter/Spring meeting at Santa Anita. (Chart, Equibase