Costume Stages Dramatic Win in Santa Ana

Costume Stages Dramatic Win in Santa Ana
Photo: Benoit
Costume (inside, pink cap) hangs on for victory in a thrilling Santa Ana Handicap (gr. IIT).
Costume, thanks to a little chicanery from jockey Garrett Gomez, gave trainer Bobby Frankel his eighth win in the Santa Ana Handicap (gr. IIT) (VIDEO) with an all-out front-running head victory on the Santa Anita turf March 23.

The Juddmonte Farms' British homebred had never finished in the money in three ties at the Santa Ana's 1 1/8-mile distance, but was tiring after opening a three-length lead in the lane. Gomez, feeling the closers surrounding him on both sides, went to the left-handed whip in deep stretch, resulting in contact with the runner-up, Immortelle, on their outside, just before the wire. Costume prevailed in the photo.

David Flores, riding the Brazilian-bred Immortelle, claimed foul over Gomez's tactics, but stewards declined to make a change in the order of finish. Immortelle, an 11-1 shot, who was being held in on her outside by race favorite Lavender Sky and Alex Solis, definitely took the worst of it while holding second by a head. Lavender Sky took third while Foxysox, rallying strongly along the inside until the final few strides, was the fourth head on the wire and settled for fourth. The final time was 1:48.08 for the firm track test for older fillies and mares.

"I drifted out to her, which was my right to do," said Gomez, who teamed with Costume to win the one-mile Buena Vista Handicap (gr. IIT) last time out. "When I did make contact it was right at the wire."

The 4-year-old filly Costume, who was a little slow to adapt to American racing after finishing fourth in each of her first four U.S. starts, has had a change of heart of since Gomez began putting the daughter of Danehill on the lead. She won the Buena Vista in similar fashion, holding off the closer Black Mamba by a neck. Black Mamba, the morning line favorite for the Santa Ana, was scratched by trainer John Sadler.

Costume was able to gain a 1 1/2-length lead after six furlongs while setting a relaxed pace of :23.98, :48.30 and 1:12.32 on the speed-favoring Santa Anita lawn. She kicked away to a commanding advantage in the lane after pace rivals Kris's Sis and Colina Verde gave way in upper stretch.

"Going to the far turn she was kind of looking down at the inside rail and I decided to go ahead and inch away from them at the three-eighths pole and shake loose a bit," Gomez said.

"The difference was the pace was slow today," Frankel said of Costume being able to negotiate the nine furlongs. "She could relax. Speed has been hanging on (in turf races) very well here, but she's a game filly. I think when they got to her, she started to stick her head out."

Frankel, who won the Santa Ana last year with Citronnade, said the stewards' decision was a close call.

"I thought it was right on top of the wire, so I thought maybe it would be all right, but I wasn’t sure. It was close. If they’d have taken it down, I couldn’t beef, because they did come together, but it was right on the wire. It wasn’t like it was at the sixteenth pole.”

Costume began her career in England, where she won once in six starts for trainer John Gosden and finished fourth in the French One Thousand Guineas at Longchamp in May. After a fourth-place finish in her American bow, the Garden City Handicap (gr. IT) at Belmont Park last September, she was transferred to Frankel. The victory was her third in 11 lifetime starts and elevated her earnings to $309,464 with the Santa Ana winning purse of $90,000.

Out of the Nureyev mare Dance Dress, Costume carried 115 pounds to victory and paid $6.60, $4.20 and $2.80 as the second choice in the field of eight.

The unlucky Immortelle, one of two winners of the Brazilian Oaks (Brz-I) in the field (Colina Verde was the other), returned $8.80 and $4.80 for trainer Paulo Lobo while completing a $2 exacta that was worth $69.20.

Lavender Sky was $2.60 to show in her second grade II placing of the meet for conditioner Dan Hendricks.

Foxysox finished three-quarters of a length in front of Kris' Sis, followed by Persian Express, Colina Verde (the 117-pound high weight) and I Can See.

(Chart, Equibase)

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