Island Fashion Takes Star Turn in La Brea

Island Fashion Takes Star Turn in La Brea
Photo: AP/Benoit
Island Fashion wins the La Brea Stakes, Saturday at Santa Anita.
Everest Stable Inc.'s overlooked homebred Island Fashion dominated a solid group of 3-year-old fillies Saturday at Santa Anita, romping to a six-length victory in the $250,000 La Brea Stakes (gr. I).

Ridden by Kent Desormeaux for trainer Marcelo Polanco, Island Fashion, who won the 1 1/4-mile Alabama Stakes (gr. I) at Saratoga this summer by the same margin, was sent off at 9-1 while carrying top weight of 123 pounds. She became racing's newest millionaire with Saturday's triumph.

"She is a super filly. . .she was that good today," Desormeaux said. "She grilled a nice bunch of horses today."

Randaroo was second in the field of 10, edging Buffythecenterfold by 1 1/2 lengths. The time for the seven-furlong La Brea was 1:21 3/5.

Polanco is the third conditioner this year for Island Fashion, who was previously under the care of Nick Canani and Barclay Tagg.

Elloluv, favored at 6-5, turned in a dull sixth-place effort under Corey Nakatani after racing wide on the turn and tiring. She was coming off a second-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Distaff (gr. I) at Santa Anita two months ago.

Breaking from the outside post, Desormeaux sent Island Fashion, the gray/roan daughter of Petionville, after the lead from the outset. She raced three wide down the backstretch while dueling with Stellar and Randaroo through an opening quarter mile in :22 3/5 and the half in :45 2/5. As Stellar gave way on the turn, Island Fashion, on the outside of Randaroo, ridden by Herbert Castillo Jr., continued to battle on the front end into the stretch, where the winner began to take command after completing six furlongs in 1:09 1/5. She kicked clear under urging in the final eighth.

Buffythecenterfold was stuck five wide on the turn with Alex Solis in the saddle, but held off Hope Rises by a half-length for third.

Nakatani said Elloluv was not her usual self.

"There was a lot of bumping in the race, that didn't help," he said. "She was a little dull. She didn't do things like she normally does. She didn't break like she normally does.  I don't know if she is getting sick or what, but she is still a tremendous filly.  She deserves the championship (Eclipse Award) even though she didn't run her best race today.  Horses can't be their best all the time. She has run hard all year.  She ran against older horses the last few times and those races may have taken a little of the punch out of her.  I look forward to getting her freshened up and back next year."

Island Fashion won her fourth stakes race of the year – she also captured the Delaware Oaks (gr. III) and the $256,000 WinStar Oaks at Sunland – and was coming off a grand effort against older fillies and mares in the Matriarch (gr. I) at Hollywood Park Nov. 30. She was fourth of 14, beaten by Heat Haze by three quarters of a length at odds of 87-1 in that one.

Saturday's $150,000 winner's share pushed her career bankroll to $1,112,970 – all in 2003. She owns a 4-1-0 record in 10 starts this year.

The La Brea was the first leg of Santa Anita's exclusive La Canada Series for fillies foaled in 2000. The series continues with the El Encino Stakes (gr. II) at 1 1/16 miles on Jan. 18 and concludes with the La Canada Stakes (gr. II) at 1 1/8 miles on Feb. 14.

Polanco, a 43-year-old native of Chile, captured his first grade I race. He said the filly would be pointed to the La Canada Stakes (gr. II).

The winner was bred in Kentucky from the A Native Danzig mare Danzigs Fashion.

The fifth choice of the public, Island Fashion paid $20.80, $10.60 and $6.40. Randaroo, who won the Top Flight (gr. II) at Aqueduct by two lengths Nov. 28, returned $7.40 and $5.20. Buffythecenterfold's show was $6.60. A $2 exacta was worth $153.

Acago was fifth, followed by Elloluv, Bartok's Blithe, Gone Exclusive, Stellar and Atlantic Ocean, the second choice of the public who was steadied at the three-eighths pole and weakened late.

In the filly division of the $125,000 California Breeders' Champion Stakes, heavily favored Silent Sighs rolled to a three-length victory over Yearly Report while running seven furlongs in 1:22.12. The winning time was fastest in the race since Musical Girl's stakes record of 1:21.89 set in 1994.

Ridden by David Flores at 116 pounds and trained by Julio Canani, Silent Sighs paid $3.20. Yearly Report, the second favorite at 9-5, was easily second and was followed under the wire by Nicole and Ben, Remembrances and Pulchritude.

Owned and bred by Martin and Pam Wygod, Silent Sighs has two wins and a second from three career starts. The California-bred filly by Benchmark earned $75,000 to increase her bankroll to $125,200.

(Chart, Equibase)

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