Undefeated Witty, a half-sister to Dubai World Cup (UAE-I) winner Well Armed, scored her third lifetime win when she ran down favored Carlsbad in the $100,000 Railbird Stakes (gr. III) (VIDEO) at Hollywood Park May 10.
Trainer Richard Mandella, who won his record fourth Railbird, may have something special in this 3-year-old daughter of Distorted Humor --Well Dressed (by Notebook).
Sent off as the 7-5 second choice, Witty had dead aim on the previously unbeaten Arizona spitfire Carlsbad at the head of the stretch and got the lead approaching the eighth pole. Under some encouragement from Victor Espinoza, she drew off in the final sixteenth of a mile to win by 1 1/2 lengths while completing the seven-furlong journey in a smart time of 1:21.74 over Hollywood's Cushion Track.
A $400,000 Keeneland yearling purchase in September 2007, Witty's debut was delayed until March due to a number of minor issues such as a bucked shin and a popped splint, according to Mandella. Owned by Ramona Bass, Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider, the smallish dark bay has been nothing short of amazing since getting healthy, however.
Her maiden debut win came at Santa Anita March 4 at 5 1/2 furlongs by 3 1/2 lengths in a sharp 1:02 3/5. She came back April 12 against a first-level allowance group and won by 3 1/4 lengths while clocking a flashy 1:08 2/5 for six furlongs.
“She’s never done anything not to please us training or running,” Mandella said. “You just hope the story continues on. She was the smartest of my 2-year olds last year and again she just keeps going. We’re going to have to give some thought for what’s next.”
In Carlsbad, she was facing a razor sharp filly on a five-race roll after easily winning the Santa Paula Stakes (gr. III) by 3 1/4 lengths March 29. The Arizona-bred daughter of Rocky Bar won four starts at Turf Paradise prior to that by a combined margin of more than 50 lengths.
As expected, Carlsbad, along the inside, pulled her way to the front for Tyler Baze, wresting the early lead from Strawberry Tart. She went fast early as Strawberry Tart kept the pressure on, clicking off an opening quarter-mile of :21.82 and the half in :44.05. Witty, racing three to four lengths off the pace in third, moved up between horses rounding the turn and was in position to challenge at the top of the lane.
Baze delivered a left-handed crack of the whip to Carlsbad and the fight was on to the wire. Witty, showing an impressive stride on the outside of Carlsbad, gained the lead past mid-stretch and won with something left while completing the final eighth of mile in a shade over 13 seconds.
“She's improving every time and she might be something special," said Espinoza. "I knew they were going pretty quick up there and it set up very nicely for us."
The 13-10 favorite Carlsbad, who fought back before giving in late, held second by a head over the closing Will O Way, ridden by Jose Rios. Ultra Blend finished a length back in fourth, followed by Strawberry Tart and Burg Berg.
"She was real fresh and that Jeff Bonde filly (Strawberry Tart) wouldn't leave us alone the first part,” Baze said of the runner-up. “She ran her eyeballs out. I can't complain -- she was just pressured all the way. On the turn I tried to let her get a breather. We were really running down the lane. We just got out-run."
Witty, who increased her career earnings to $115,800 with the winning share of $60,000, paid $4.80, $2.60 and $2.40. WinStar Farm bred the winning filly.
Carslbad gave a game effort for trainer Ral Ayers, subbing for the suspended Jeff Mullins, and returned $2.60 and $2.40 while completing a $2 exacta worth $11. Will O Way was $4.20 to show.
The Railbird, for 3-year-old fillies, is a prep for the June 6 Hollywood Oaks (gr. II) at 1 1/16 miles.
Pretty Unusual, Lady Lumberjack and Music Magic scratched.