Illuminise gave Irish breds a sweep of Oak Tree's grass stakes for 3-year-olds this weekend when she captured the $100,000 Harold C. Ramser Sr. Handicap for 3-year-old fillies on Sunday at Santa Anita.
The daughter of Grand Lodge prevailed gamely by three-quarters of a length over the stubborn pacesetter Diplomat Lady while covering one mile on turf in 1:34.52.
Like Dark Islander, who won Saturday's Oak Tree Derby (gr. IIT), Illuminise had been racing in England. But this was the second U.S. start for the chestnut filly. She responded gamely for jockey Corey Nakatani to get the lead in the final stages.
Diplomat Lady, who was ridden by Patrick Valenzuela, set fractions of :23, :47 and 1:10 2/5 and had fight left to hold the closing Zoemeg off by a neck for second.
The second favorite in a field of nine, Illuminise paid $7.40, $3.60, and $2.40. The return on Diplomat Lady was $4.80 and $3.40. Zoemeg, with Victor Espinoza aboard, paid $6.20 to show.
So Mi Fa, who was sent off as the 2-1 favorite, was never a factor while finishing seventh.
Before joining trainer Neil Drysdale's stable, the winner - owned and bred by Ballygallon Stud in Ireland - had posted a single victory while starting six times in England.
She prepped for the Ramser with a closing sixth at 6 ½ furlongs over Santa Anita's hillside turf course Oct. 1.
Sunday's winning purse of $60,000 added significantly to the $13,410 that she had earned while racing in England.
"The distance was more suitable to her than her first race here," Drysdale said. "She had a sweet run the first time down the hill, and we just felt a mile would be more suitable for her. She got a great trip."