The 4-year-old filly won her third successive stakes race in Southern California, this one coming in an even more impressive front-running style than her victory in the San Gorgonio Handicap (gr. IIT) over the course at Sunday's nine-furlong distance. Her winning time, 1:46.21, bettered the stakes mark of set by Exchange in 1993 by .02 seconds.
Dominating in triumph, Citronnade was bet down to 4-5 in a field of seven reduced by three scratches. The homebred daughter of Lemon Drop Kid --Primarily (Lord At War) was beaten from the gate by Memorette, starting just inside of Citronnade on the rail. But the winner quickly established control going into the clubhouse turn as Memorette dropped back and she settled the pace down to a slow :24 for each of the first two quarters. The bay filly picked it up a bit from there, completing six furlongs in 1:10 4/5 as second choice Quiet Royal tried in vain to keep pace. After shaking that one off Citonnade hit the stretch firmly in control and kicked away while under mild urging from Flores through the stretch run.
“There was no speed in the race today, so we just put her on the lead, nice and easy,” Flores said after winning his eleventh stakes race at the meet. “Then she put herself to sleep. She was confident and happy. At the top of the stretch, I turned her loose a little bit and let her run. Wow, she can really run, and she’s getting better and better with every start.”
Citronnade carried 117 pounds, two less than top-weighted Foxysox, who finished last.
The stalking Conveyor's Angel, a grade II winner on the Santa Anita turf in the one-mile Buena Vista Handicap in her last start, finished best of the rest for Saul Arias to take second by 2 1/4 lengths over Memorette, who never really picked it up under Victor Espinoza after angling off the rail three wide on the turn.
Citronnade paid $3.60, $3 and $2.60. She also won a stakes at Hollywood Park during her current win streak, which has followed the only dull effort of her career, a ninth-place finish in the Queen Elizabeth II Cup (gr. IT) at Keeneland Oct. 14. Conveyor’s Angel, a two-time stakes winner on the 'Anita lawn this year for trainer Christopher Paasch, paid $7.60 and $5 while Memorette, trained by William Currin, returned $4.80 to show.
The win, worth $90,000, elevated Citronnade’s career earnings to $342,800 from a 6-2-0 record in 9 starts. Frankel took the blame for the QE II disaster. “She probably should be undefeated on the turf,” he said, “but we messed up. I think it was miscommunication between (jockey) Edgar Prado and myself that day. He took her back, and she didn’t like it.”
Frankel described Citronnade as “a big, strong filly.” He added, “She’s happy every day and she’s a pleasure to train. She always has a good day, never a bad day. That’s why she’s so good. We’ll definitely keep her on turf.”
Flip Flop, Quiet Royal Singalong and Foxysox completed the order. Grat, Riche Americaine and Solva were scratched earlier in the day.
In a winner’s circle ceremony earlier in the afternoon, Jon Court, 47, became the 58th recipient of the Santa Anita George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award, which honors riders whose careers and personal character earn esteem for the individual and for the sport of Thoroughbred racing.
While surrounded by numerous past winners of the award as well as his family, Court said, “I’ve dreamed of this for many years, this being such a prestigious award. To be selected by my peers is more than words can express.”
With 23 wins at the current meet, Court ranks seventh in the Santa Anita riders’ standings. He gained his 3,000th career victory aboard Brite Loreli at Santa Anita on April 7, 2005, which came 25 years to the day that he had ridden his first winner at Centennial Park near Denver.