Pamela Ziebarth's Healthy Addiction helped solidify plans for the Emirates Airline Breeders' Cup Distaff (gr. I) with a repeat win in the $233,500 Lady's Secret Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. II) at Oak Tree's Santa Anita meeting Sunday.
According to trainer John Sadler, the 5-year-old mare is to be bred to Tiznow
in Kentucky following a likely start in the BC Distaff, which is Nov. 4 at Churchill Downs.
"We really love her," Sadler said. "We've had her a long time, and she's run well over that period. I'd say it's 60-40 she'll run in the Breeders' Cup. Everything's predicated on the horse - how she comes out of it and everything like that - so we'll look at everything and look at the division."
Healthy Addiction, who went over the $1 million mark in earnings ($1,032,837) Sunday, is going out on the top of her game, regardless of what happens next. Winner of the Santa Margarita Handicap (gr. I) at Santa Anita in March, the daughter of Boston Harbor has two grade II wins and a grade I placing since then.
Well positioned by Victor Espinoza on the outside of the pacesetting Downthedustyroad, Healthy Addiction, the 1-2 favorite, engaged the leader with a quarter-mile to run. Under some hard riding down the lane, she gradually pulled away approaching the wire to win by 1 1/2 lengths. The winning time was 1:43 3/5 for the 1 1/16-mile event.
Espinoza said the key to Healthy Addiction is to get her into a good position early.
"She doesn't really have a lot of acceleration, so going to the three eighth's (pole) I try to let her slowly pick up her momentum," he said. "She's so professional. She loves to run. She's gone (to the sidelines), come back, and she keeps running good races. She had to today because (Downthedustyroad) ran great."
Downthedustyroad was keen at the start, setting fast early fractions for the distance of :22 4/5, :46 1/5 and 1:10 1/5, but was stubborn until the last.
"My strategy was to be in front," Court said. "That's what we discussed - put her right to the lead and give Healthy Addiction a little competition. She's got a lot of class, but our filly hung in tough."
Longest shot in the five-horse field, Downthedustyroad, ridden by Jon Court for trainer Bob Baffert, finished a clear second by 3 1/2 lengths over Hollywood Story (David Flores), who nipped Brazilian-bred Neuilly for third by a head. Something was amiss with grade I winner Star Parade, who finished last, 16 lengths behind the winner. The 7-year-old Argentine mare stopped running on the far when third on the outside of Healthy Addiction.
Healthy Addiction, who ran last of 13 in the 2005 BC Distaff at Belmont Park, has been first or second in 16 of 22 starts, including 10 victories. She has won four of seven this year. The dark bay mare loves Santa Anita, where she has six wins and four seconds in 11 outings.
Healthy Addiction, with Garrett Gomez riding, won the Lady's Secret by a half-length last year over Star Parade. Sadler said he made a mistake by shipping Healthy Addiction to Belmont too soon after that race last year. The weather was terrible, he noted.
"It rained every day," Sadler said.
She paid $3, $2.60, and $2.10. Downthedustyroad returned $6.40 and $2.20. Hollywood Story was $2.10 to show.