The third time was the charm for racing's newest millionaire - the 6-year-old Moscow Burning - who stormed home to win the $500,000 Sunshine Millions Warren's Thoroughbreds Filly and Mare Turf at Santa Anita Saturday.
The 13-10 favorite in the field of 11, the James Cassidy-trained Moscow Burning snared the lead in deep stretch under left-handed urging by jockey David Flores and won by 1 1/2 lengths over Beneficial Bartok. It was the third time in this particular race for the California-bred bay daughter of Moscow Ballet, who finished second in 2004 and fifth last year.
Moscow Burning bobbled at the break and raced near the rear of the 11-horse field on the inside for the first six furlongs, angling off the rail a bit on the far turn and swinging out four wide coming into the stretch.
"David had me scared to death," Cassidy conceded. "I thought we were going to get trapped big time (down the backstretch). I think this is as good a race as she could have ever run, as much as she had to do, go wide and give away all that space. To be honest with you, I wasn't sure she was going to get up. This is fantastic, to have a mare like this. If she never ran again, this would be perfect."
Valentine Dancer, who had won the race the past two years for trainer Craig Lewis, had all sorts of problems and struggled home eighth as the 9-2 second choice under Jon Court. Never comfortable while pulling early behind the pacesetters on the inside, she came out for the drive and had to steady off heels in tight quarters in mid-stretch, never regaining her stride.
Moscow Burning completed the 1 1/8-mile turf test in 1:48 1/5 to register her 10th lifetime win in 25 starts. After suffering through an eight-race losing streak in 2004-05 and racing just once in more than nine months between Jan. 29 and Nov. 6 of last year, she seems to have turned things around with two victories in her last three starts. The $275,000 winning share for Don Van Kempen's Bullseye Racing LLC pushed her earnings to $1,177,535.
Beneficial Bartok, ridden by David Cohen, edged 16-1 shot Charmsil, with Martin Pedroza aboard, by a head. Charmsil had taken a slim lead into the stretch after dueling with the pacesetter Midwife on the far turn. Midwife carved easy fractions of :23 4/5, :474/5 and 1:12 1/5 under Russell Baze.
"The pace was slow and I just wanted to be in position," Flores said. "When we went to the three-eighths (pole), it was perfect because right when I was looking for room to go on the turn, everybody accelerated and that opened things up for me, so I got a chance to get out.
"There was no pace the first half, so I knew I had to get there earlier and she had just enough to get there. She was really ready and very good today."
Harris Farms and Ken Maddy Trust bred Moscow Burning, who is out of Burning Desire, by Mr. Leader.
Moscow Burning Paid $4.60, $3.20, and $2.60. Beneficial Bartok returned $4.80 and $3.40. Charmsil was $5.20 to show.
First Draft was fourth, followed by Allbow, Formal Miss, Midwife, Valentine Dancer, Eclipse Winner, Vous, and Tiger Belle.