Southern Equine Stable's Hello Lucky came from off the pace to produce a 33-1 upset in Saturday's $113,600 Las Flores Handicap (gr. III) for sprinting fillies and mares at Santa Anita.
Michael Baze guided Hello Lucky--winless since August of 2005--to victory for trainer Eric Guillot in a six-furlong time of 1:09 1/5. The 5-year-old Lucky Lionel mare surged past favored Selvatica late to win by one length.
"The key to her was Michael taking her off the pace," said John Broadhurst, assistant to Guillot, who took his family to Disneyland Saturday. "(Hello Lucky) was up in there between those horses, but (Baze) had enough sense to back out and let them go on and make one run on the outside. She ran a much, much, much improved race over her recent form.”
It was the first graded win for Guillot since he saddled Show Me The Stage to win Santa Anita’s Monrovia Handicap (gr. IIIT) in 1999, and it was the third grade III win for Baze, who turns 20 on April 14.
Maryfield was under pressure to get the early lead from Secret Scheme and led the field of 12 through a quick opening quarter mile in :21 2/5. Selvatica, breaking from the 11 post, was widest of four on the turn but went for an early run under Garrett Gomez after running four furlongs in :44 1/5, opening up a sizable advantage in the lane. She was vulnerable late, however, opening the door for the late-running Hello Lucky, who stalked in fifth for the first half-mile and closed four wide on the turn. Babe Hall overcame a stumble at the start to finish third, 4 1/4 lengths behind the runner-up.
“Mr. Guillot worked with her and got her to relax much better today," Baze said. "We broke clean like usual, but she relaxed much better. I was able to sit right off of Selvatica the whole way and turning for home, when I asked her, she gave me plenty.”
Hello Lucky returned to the dirt Saturday after back-to-back seventh-place showings on the hillside turf course, the last coming in the Wishing Well Handicap on Jan. 28. She had three in-the-money performances on the Del Mar dirt last summer and was third in a Hollywood Park turf try before that.
Her last victory, however, came in Retama Park's Lakeway Stakes in 2005. Her first graded stakes win improved her record to 5-4-3 in 19 starts. The winning share of $68,160 increased Hello Lucky's earnings to $314,480.
She paid a whopping $68.60, $27.80, and $15. Selvatica, making her first start for trainer Julio Canani, returned $4 and $3.40. Babe Hall, ridden by Aaron Gryder, was $8.80 to show in her graded stakes debut.
It was a half-length back to Hystericalady, followed by Mazella, Spirit to Spare, Maryfield, Secret Scheme, Nossa Cancao, Dancing Squall, Running Bobcats, and Katy Smiles.
The winning owner is Michel Blanco Moreno of Lafayette, LA, who races as Southern Equine Stable, LLC.
Adena Springs bred the bay, who is out of Mystery Number, by Secret Hello, in Florida.