Compared to Stardom Bound, the 3-year-old filly Evita Argentina found the nine males she faced in the $150,000 San Vicente Stakes (gr. II) (VIDEO) easy pickings at stormy Santa Anita Feb. 16. Last leaving the quarter pole, the favorite closed with fearlessness down the middle of the track to surge past Leedstheway to win in the final strides.
Ridden with confidence by Garrett Gomez, Evita Argentina was running last as they made their way around the turn in the seven-furlong event. By the time they straightened for the home, though, the daughter of Candy Ride was charging, quickly picking off her rivals. Urged home left-handed in the final sixteenth of a mile, she got up by one length in a time of 1:24.30 on the Pro-Ride racing surface.
While visually impressive, Gomez, who rode her for the first time in her most recent start, said it could have gone better.
“The track is soggy all over, but at the three eighths pole, it seemed a little deeper and she got off the bridle with me, so I really had to go to work on her to get her to running again," he noted. "She was able to wear them down, but I know she can run even better than that.”
In her first try against males, Evita Argentina collected the third stakes win of her career and made trainer John Sadler the first conditioner to win the San Vicente with both a colt and a filly. He won the 2007 renewal with Noble Court. Evita Argentina is the third filly to win the San Vicente in 68 renewals of the race, joining Hubble Bubble (1947) and Busher (1945).
In a race expected to have plenty of pace, Wall Street Wonder, leaving from the rail, took the lead from Leedstheway soon after the start and slowed things down for the the first half-mile. Fractions were :23.23 and :47.46 as Gato Go Win and Leedstheway pressed the leader. With Evita Argentina beginning to unwind her big finish down the lane, Wall Street Wonder, Gato Win and Leedstheway dueled on the front end, the latter getting the advantage and inching clear in the final furlong. That would not last long, though, when Evita Argentina blew past while rallying wide.
"I wasn’t too concerned with her being that far back," said Larry Benavidez, assistant to Sadler, who was not feeling well and stayed home. "I was pretty confident, because this filly is going to give you her run no matter what. Garrett cut the corner perfect. It was a great ride by him.”
Leedstheway, ridden by Tyler Baze, held second by 1 1/4 lengths over Gato Go Win, who nosed Wall Street Wonder and second choice Ventana for third. The latter pair wound up in a dead-heat for fourth, followed a nose back by Gallant Son. Then came Smokey Lonesome, Cut the Check, Congor Bay and Point Attended.
Evita Argentina has two victories and a runner-up finish to show for her last three tries at the seven-furlong distance. She won the Moccasin Stakes at Hollywood Park two starts back Nov. 16, then came back two months later running second to Alpha Kitten in the Santa Ynez Stakes (gr. II) at Santa Anita. As a 2-year-old, she was defeated by Stardom Bound twice, including a ninth-place showing in the Bessemer Trust Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I).
She picked up her fourth win in seven lifetime starts and earned $90,000 for owners Halo Farms and Three Sisters Thoroughbreds. Bred in Kentucky by Theodore Aroney's Halo Farms from the Forest Wildcat mare Jealous Wildcat, the chestnut filly has banked $324,900 in her career.
Benavidez said the $400,000 Fair Grounds Oaks (gr. II) at 1 1/16 miles on March 14 might be next for Evita Argentina.
She carried 117 pounds to victory as the 2-1 choice and paid $6.60, $3.80 and $2.80 while topping a $2 exacta worth $45.20. Leedstheway, previously undefeated in two starts for trainer Jeff Mullins, returned $6.40 and $5 in a dynamic stakes debut. Gato Go Win, also in his initial stakes effort for Mullins, was $3.80 to show.