Trainer Bobby Frankel conditions Cittronade, as well as the runner-up, Price Tag, whose belated rally came up three quarters of a length short in the 1 1/8-mile event, completed in a good time of 1:45 3/5. The race took a sad turn when the grade II winner Three Degrees injured her left foreleg at the wire and was euthanized on the track.
The 4-year-old Citronnade broke a step behind but soon coasted to the lead for jockey David Flores and refused to yield as both Vacare and and Charm the Giant took turns trying to cut into the advantage. Citronnade carved fractions of :23 4/5, :47 4/5 and 1:11. After repelling Vacare coming off the final turn, Citronnade inched away from the pack to lead by nearly two lengths at the eighth pole. Price Tag, fleeing the inside on the far turn to launch her bid while three wide in the stretch for Alex Solis, came on strongly but ran out of time as Citronnade won with some urging. It was 4 1/2 lengths farther back to second choice Vacare and Jose Valdivia Jr., who finished third.
“She just kept giving me another gear every time,” Flores said. “In the middle of the turn she really picked it up. I hit her a couple of times and I didn't want to let up because I could see Price Tag coming."
Solis said Citronnade "is something else."
"My filly gave it a good try down the stretch," he said, "but I knew at the quarter pole it was going to be a battle and that's what it was."
Citronnade, a 4-year-old daughter of Lemon Drop Kid bred at Adena Springs, hasn't lost since a 9th-place finish behind the winning Vacare in the Queen Elizabeth Challenge Cup (gr. IT) at Keeneland last October. Other than that race, she has never been worse than second in 10 lifetime starts, and in her two previous starts, she reeled off gate-to-wire victories in the San Gorgonio (gr. IIT) and Santa Ana (gr. IIT) handicaps at Santa Anita. Her seventh win was worth $224,280. She has now banked $567,080 in her lightly-raced career.
The 4-5 pick paid $3.60, $2.60 and $2.10. Juddmonte's Price Tag, making her third U.S. start after a fine 3-year-old campaign in France in which she was a group III winner and group I placed, returned $4 and $3.
"I don’t know what the plans for Citronnade are but Price Tag will get shipped to Keeneland and then come back for the CashCall Mile,” said Humberto Ascanio, Frankel's assistant in Southern California.
Vacare, undefeated in her previous five starts, was $2.60 to show.
Valdivia said Vacare had no excuse. "I turned for home and David's hind end was getting smaller and smaller."
Three Degrees, Sohgol and Charm the Giant followed.
Three Degrees, a 5-year-old Irish-bred gray, won the Honeymoon Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. IIIT) over the Hollywood course in 2005, and was grade I placed three times, most recently in the Matriarch last November when she lost to Price Tag by a half-length. Trained by Patrick Gallagher for a partnership that included Bienstock and Winner Stables, she fashioned a 3-6-3 record in 16 starts with earnings of $490,241.