Peter Vegso's 4-year-old Florida homebred filly Splendid Blended, twice a grade I winner, was the class of the field in Saturday's $187,000 Shirley Jones Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. II) at Gulfstream Park. She did nothing to dispel that notion as she drew clear for a 3 1/4-length victory over Beautiful Bets.
Ridden for the first time by Manoel Cruz, Splendid Blended was away quickly in a duel for the lead early in the seven-furlong test, and edged away as she pleased in the upper stretch as the 3-1 second choice in the field of 10 fillies and mares. The final time was 1:21 3/5, three-fifths of a second off the track record.
"She broke out of the gate really well, and I had a very good feeling about her - she felt confident all the way," Cruz said. "I relaxed her good and, when I asked her to go, she took off again."
Injustice finished third, 1 1/4 lengths behind the runner-up. In the Gold, the 2-1 choice, checked in eighth.
Injustice, pressured from the outset on her outside by Splendid Blended, led through early splits of :22 3/5 and :45, before the winning filly took the lead under urging in the stretch.
Trained this year by Bill Mott, Splendid Blended won the Vanity Handicap (gr. I) at Hollywood Park July 3 for trainer Neil Drysdale, but her connections considered retiring her. Sent to Mott for a comeback attempt, she finished sixth in the Hurricane Bertie Handicap (gr. III) at Gulfstream Feb. 18 in her first start since the Vanity.
Splendid Blended paid $8, $4.40, and $4. The 4-year-old daughter of Unbridled's Song
has won five of eight starts and earned $639,900.
Beautiful Bets, ridden by Mark Guidry, returned $8.60 and $4.80, and Injustice, with Rene Douglas aboard, paid $4.60 to show.
Givememore finished fourth, followed by So Much More, Pool Land, Toll Taker, In the Gold, Johns Place, and Menifeeque. Malibu Mint scratched.