After seven consecutive in-the-money performances against stakes company, Black Mamba provided Hollywood Park leading trainer John Sadler with his most satisfying win of the Inglewood track's spring/summer meet in the Beverly Hills. Black Mamba succeeded with her typical off-the-pace style by 1 1/4 lengths, the difference that day being that she had Garrett Gomez guiding her for the first time.
In the Mabee, the 5-year-old New Zealand-bred daughter of Black Minnaloushe is to face seven other fillies and mares, most of them also coming out of the June 29 Beverly Hills. There are no grade I winners in the field.
At 1 1/8 miles, the Mabee is one furlong shorter than the Hollywood fixture. A little more is at stake this time, too. The race gets a "Win and You're In" designation, guaranteeing the victor an automatic invitation to the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf (gr. IT), to be run at Oak Tree at Santa Anita Oct. 24.
Gomez will be back aboard Black Mamba in the Mabee, and they will break from the rail, as they did in the Beverly Hills, under top weight of 119 pounds.
After arriving from New Zealand, Black Mamba won her U.S. debut for owner Doubledown Stables in a one-mile turf allowance at Del Mar one year ago. She then recorded five runner-up finishes and two thirds versus stakes opposition before inhaling her Beverly Hills foes in a big stretch-running effort as the 7-5 choice. Her late-running style makes her trouble prone -- she comes into the Mabee with just three wins in 19 lifetime starts -- but she's almost always charging at the end.
In her only previous grade I attempt, Black Mamba finished third -- three-quarters of a length behind Nashoba's Key while nosed for second by Citronnade -- in the Yellow Ribbon at Santa Anita last fall.
Also coming out of the Mabee are the second and third-place finishers, Solva and Green Lyons, respectively, as well as Foxysox (sixth) and I Can See (seventh).
The English-bred Solva, a 5-year-old mare trained by Ben Cecil, had a big try in Beverly Hills at odds of 12-1, bidding between horses late before being overpowered by Black Mamba. It was her best U.S. effort since winning her stateside bow, the La Zanzara Handicap at Santa Anita, in February 2007. She was assigned 114 for the Mabee and will be ridden again by Aaron Gryder.
Castleton Lyons' Irish-bred Green Lyons finished 2 3/4 lengths behind Black Mamba as a 10-1 shot in her American graded stakes debut. The 4-year-old Green Desert filly has a win and two thirds in four starts since this spring for trainer Neil Drysdale following her transfer from France.
Foxysox, another Great Britain-bred, defeated Black Mamba by a nose in winning the Santa Barbara Handicap (gr. IIT) two starts back at Santa Anita. But the Carla Gaines trainee never fired in the Beverly Hills homestretch after making a mild bid while racing slightly wide. She was assigned 117 pounds.
I Can See returned from the Beverly Hills to run sixth in the Osunitas Handicap at Del Mar July 19, though she was beaten by just two lengths after a bad start and was closing well.
Forging Oaks Farm's Passified, winner of the San Clemente Handicap (gr. IIT) over the Del Mar lawn last summer, tired to fourth in the July 5 CashCall MIle (gr. IIT) at Hollywood after gaining the lead in the stretch. The Jim Cassidy charge could be the pacesetter in the Mabee, making her dangerous on a course that has been catering to speed.
His main concern is whether the race is too long for her since she's never won beyond a mile.
"If she can get the distance, she could be tough in the race," Cassidy said.
The field also includes Ransom Captive, who was supplemented to the race for $4,000 by trainer Jerry Hollendorfer. She comes to the race from two allowance victories and gets Victor Espinoza in the saddle.
Placid Lake, last seen winning the Academy Award Handicap over Santa Anita's synthetic track five months ago, completes the field. Trained by Valdimir Cerin, Placid Lake is also entered in the Clement L. Hirsch (gr. II) on Del Mar's Polytrack Aug. 2.
$400,000 John C. Mabee Handicap (gr. IT, Race 8, 5:30 p.m.), Fillies & Mares 3 & Up, 1 1/8 Miles (Turf)
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Black Mamba (NZ), 119, Garrett K. Gomez
2. Solva (GB), 114, Aaron T. Gryder
3. Green Lyons (IRE), 113, David R. Flores
4. Ransom Captive (KY), 113, Victor Espinoza
5. Foxysox (GB), 117, Rafael Bejarano
6. Passified (GB), 116, Mike E. Smith
7. Placid Lake (FL), 113, Joel Rosario
8. I Can See (KY), 113, Corey S. Nakatani
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