Las Flores Makes 8 and Counting for Ema Bovary

Las Flores Makes 8 and Counting for Ema Bovary
Photo: Benoit
Ema Bovary won her eighth race in a row in the Las Flores.
Chilean-bred Ema Bovary wrapped up her eighth consecutive victory Sunday in the $107,300 Las Flores Handicap (gr. III) at Santa Anita, overpowering favored Buffythecenterfold by 3 1/4 lengths.

It was the first graded stakes win for Ema Bovary.

The remarkable 5-year-old daughter of Edgy Diplomat was ridden to victory by Northern California-based Roberto Gonzalez, who has been aboard the bay mare for all nine of her United States starts during the past year. Larry Ross trains Ema Bovary for owners Richard T. Beal and Lana Ramsey of Washington.

The sprint specialist carried top weight of 121 pounds while completing the six-furlong Las Flores in 1:08 on a track listed as wet fast. Coconut Girl was third, a length behind Buffythecenterfold. The final time was the fastest in the 52-year history of the race.

Ema Bovary, who started her career in her native country, gained a stalking position toward the back of the six-horse field on the inside as Icantgoforthat set lively opening fractions of :21 1/5 and :43 4/5 before backing out of the race at the head of the stretch. In tight leaving the backstretch, Gonzalez angled Ema Bovary outward for room on the turn and she rallied into contention while four wide into the stretch.

She drifted in a bit but pulled clear down the lane while under steady handling late. Buffthecenterfold and jockey Matt Garcia, the slight 6-5 favorite over Ema Bovary, tried vainly to cut into the lead after also launching a wide bid into the stretch.

"I just sat behind the speed, found the spot, and from then on I said, 'I'll see how much horse I got,' " Gonzalez said. "I've been watching races all day long, and everyone was winning going four or five wide. So I talked to the trainer before the race and he said the same thing, that if I had to give up a little ground just go ahead.

"The owner and the trainer have been so patient with her, and with her rider. They've been giving her enough time (between races). I think she could probably make a grade I. She won easy today."

Ross said he had not made a decision on the mare's next start.

"It was a good win today, and we beat a pretty nice horse in Buffythecenterfold," the trainer said. "Ema loves the mud, but I was pretty surprised that she won as easy as she did, carrying that much weight."

Since a last-place finish in the Richmond Handicap in her United States debut at Golden Gate Fields just over a year ago, Ema Bovary has not lost. She was placed first in the Kalookan Queen at Santa Anita Dec. 31 after losing by a nose to Royally Chosen, who was disqualified for a late bump. That was her biggest win prior to Sunday. Ema Bovary followed that effort with a two-length win in the Orinda Handicap on a wet fast track at Golden Gate on Jan. 24, her only other start this year.

She won for the 11th time in a 16-race career, which also includes a pair of seconds. Sunday's winning share of $64,380 increased her lifetime earnings to $297,942.

Haras San Patricio bred Ema Bovary, who was produced by the dam Coqueta, by Domineau.

The 7-5 second choice, she paid $4.80, $2.60 and $2.20. Buffythecenterfold, who suffered her seventh straight loss, returned $2.60 and $2.20. Coconut Girl, who was ridden by Victor Espinoza, showed for $3. The $2 exacta was worth $10.

Icantgoforthat finished fourth, five lengths behind Coconut Girl, followed by Sarasota and Channing Way. Annabelly scratched.

(Chart, Equibase)

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