Icantgoforthat and jockey Tyler Baze led virtually from start to finish but needed every ounce of strength they could muster to hold off Polygreen by a nose in the $109,300 Monrovia Handicap (gr. IIIT) for fillies and mares on the downhill turf course at Santa Anita Monday.
The 4-year-old bay filly snapped her 10-race losing streak for trainer Steve Knapp and owners Andy Broberg and Palmer Knapp, Steve's father, while registering her first graded stakes win and first victory on the grass. She last won on Jan. 3, taking the 5 1/2-furlong Survive Stakes on the Santa Anita main track.
The final time for the 6 1/2-furlong test was 1:13 on firm going. Polygreen, part of the Richard Mandella-trained entry sent off at odds of 1-2, finished a length in front of stablemate Spring Star. Roberta's Mango was fourth.
Baze hustled Icantgoforthat away from the outside post in the field of six, but settled well, going :22 for the opening quarter mile and :44 1/2 for the half. Icantgoforthat angled to the rail for the long run into the straightaway and stayed tight on the inside through the stretch.
Polygreen, stalking comfortably under Gary Stevens, swung outside of the winner and went nose-to-nose from mid-stretch, but was unable to get past the determined Icantgoforthat at the wire. Spring Star, ridden by Alex Solis, was squeezed at the start and came on well from last at the head of the stretch.
"That horse (Polygreen) did get in front of me (in deep stretch)," Baze said. "But my horse was all heart. She just laid it down and got there. I didn't think I actually won. I thought Gary got me. Gary said, 'No, you beat me. I've been in enough photos.' But she surprised me. She got passed and just came back on and fought it out. She's a hard-trying filly and every time I've ridden here she's the same way."
Twice previously, the front-running Icantgoforthat nearly won graded races on the downhill course only to yield the lead in the final stages. She was second in the Las Cienegas (gr. IIIT) to Heat Haze in April and third to Belleski and Buffythecenterfold in the Sen. Ken Maddy (gr. IIIT) in October. Most recently, she ran fourth in the Cal Cup Distaff Nov. 8 on the same couse.
Knapp, who collected his first graded stakes triumph, said he would point Icantgoforthat to the Sunshine Millions $300,000 Filly & Mare Sprint at six furlongs at Santa Anita Jan. 24.
Overall, Icantgoforthat has a 6-3-5 record in 25 career outings while banking $392,968.
Mike Pegram bred the California-bred Icantgoforthat, a daughter of In Excess from Texinadress, by Copelan.
The 4-1 second choice among five wagering interests in the Monrovia, she paid $10.80, $3 and $3. The entry returned $2.20 and $2.10. The $2 exacta was worth $22.20.
Bold Roberta and Reef's Sis completed the order of finish. Honest Answer, Sweetcakesanshakes, Dedication and Dreamers Glory were all scratched.
In the $78,750 Hill Rise for 2-year-olds going a mile on the turf, Peter G. Angelos' Greek Sun, ridden by Solis, turned in an impressive come-from-behind four-length victory over five rivals. The final time for the Bobby Frankel-trained son of Danzig was 1:37 1/5.
Greek Sun paid $5.80 as the second choice in the wagering. He is unbeaten in two starts and has earnings of $71,850.
Frankel won last year's Hill Rise with Peace Rules, who finished third in the 2003 Kentucky Derby (gr. I).