Gary A. Tanaka's Gourmet Girl led from wire-to-wire in Saturday's Vanity Handicap (gr. I) at Hollywood Park to earn her second grade I win of the year and her third career grade I victory. Under Gary Stevens, Gourmet Girl drew clear in the stretch to win by five lengths, stopping the timer after running 1 1/8 miles in 1:49.21 on a fast track.
Gourmet Girl led early on while setting moderate fractions, with Feverish tracking two lengths back after a half-mile in :48.15. Lazy Slusan was another length back in third before jockey Victor Espinoza moved to pressure the leader. Gourmet Girl held a 1 1/2-length advantage after six furlongs run in 1:12.05 before bounding away in the stretch to the win.
"I was very surprised that we got to go as easy as we did around the first turn," Stevens said. "When you have a mare of this quality who gets to go as easily as she did the first half-mile, it makes things tough on the rest of them. I'd say that at the half-mile pole the race was over."
"I did everything I could," Espinoza said. "The pace was kind of slow, and I knew at the half-mile, I had to let her go. But unfortunately when I got close to the leader, she opened it up again by about two or three lengths. I knew I was in trouble then. But my mare ran great. It was too bad it was such a short field. You don't know what is going to happen. There wasn't much I could do."
A California-bred 6-year-old mare, Gourmet Girl (Cee's Tizzy--Rhondaling, by Welsh Pageant) earned $150,000 for her ninth win from 32 career starts. The win marks her third on the year from five starts, including a 4 1/2-length win in the Apple Blossom Handicap (gr. I) at Oaklawn Park in April in her most recent start prior to the Vanity. As a 4-year-old, she won the Milady Breeders' Cup (gr. I) by two lengths. Gourmet Girl is trained by Pico Perdomo and was bred by Carl and Olivia Cannata.
"I told Gary with the blinkers she's very aggressive," Perdomo said. "If she comes out running, don't worry about it. Forget about Feverish or anybody, you do whatever you have to do. When I saw :48 (for the half), I told Mr. Tanaka on the phone, 'I'm walking down to the winner's circle right now.'"
Gourmet Girl paid $8.20, $3, and $2.10 for the win. 3-5 favorite Lazy Slusan returned $2.40 and $2.10. Longshot Setareh overcame a troubled start to finish third and paid $2.10. The $1 exacta returned $7.20.
Letter of Intent finished fourth, followed by Feverish. (Chart, Equibase