Amerman Racing's Happyanunoit drew away to a three-length victory in the $250,000 Beverly Hills Handicap (gr. IT) Saturday at Hollywood Park. Under jockey Brice Blanc, the Bobby Frankel-trained 5-year-old mare completed the 1 1/4 miles in 1:59.32 over firm turf. As the even-money favorite, Happyanunoit returned $4, $3, and $2.10. The $1 exacta paid $12.10.
Astra assumed the lead as they left the chute and raced by the grandstand for the first time. She edged out on the backstretch leaving room for Happyanunoit to move up along the rail. With Kent Desormeaux in the irons, Astra allowed Happyanunoit to take the lead, but regrouped for a run at the winner as they rounded the second turn. Happyanunoit cut the corner at the top of the stretch, and expanded her lead as Sweet Life, on the rail, and Polaire, in the center of the track, rallied for the minor placings. Sweet Life finished second, 1 1/2 lengths in front of Polaire. Astra finished fourth, but was disqualified and placed last. Country Garden, last on the track, was placed fourth.
"She was definitely back to her old self today," said Blanc. "She showed she's on the way back up to the top and I think she's going to get better still."
Happyanunoit (Yachtie--Easter Queen, by Rajah) was bred in New Zealand by J.D. Corcoran. She raced in New Zealand and Australia for her first four races, winning three of these, including the Manawatu Sires Produce Stakes (NZ-I). The Beverly Hills marks her third American stakes win, having previously won the Matriarch (gr. IT) and the Palomar Handicap (gr. IIIT). She earned $150,000 for the win, her eighth in 15 starts. (Chart, Equibase