Blind Luck, an $11,000 yearling, blasted down the stretch to catch pacesetter Always a Princess, winning the $300,000 Oak Leaf Stakes (gr. I) (VIDEO) at Santa Anita Park Oct. 4. The victory ensured the daughter of Pollard's Vision a start in the $1-million Grey Goose Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I).
Second in the Darley Debutante (gr. I) at Del Mar one month ago, the chestnut filly gave trainer Jerry Hollendorfer his first Oak Leaf victory. Tyler Baze rode Blind Luck to victory by 2 1/2 lengths in 1:43.19 for the 1 1/16-mile distance on Santa Anita's Pro-Ride surface.
Blind Luck settled into seventh along the inside for Baze as Always a Princess, showing speed from the rail, surprisingly went to the front under Gomez in her second lifetime start. There was little change in the order as Repo and Bickersons prompted the pace through fractions of :23.04, :47.59, and 1:12.12.
Bickersons, on the outside, drew even with Always a Princess in the stretch, but both were overtaken by Blind Luck, who angled three-wide into the lane and took the lead leaving the sixteenth pole. She won going away under smooth handling.
“She was a little keen at the break and it took me a moment to get her to settle," Baze said. "Things got a little tight around the first turn, but besides that, we had a clean trip. Turning for home, the seas parted and she ran great to the wire."
Hollendorfer said he purchased Blind Luck privately after she broke her maiden by 13 1/4 lengths for trainer James Hatchett against $40,000 claimers at Calder Race Course June 21. She shipped to Del Mar, where she beat a starter allowance field by 3 1/4 lengths July 29.
Blind Luck made the big jump into the seven-furlong Darley Debutante Sept. 5 after that, and came up one length shy of Mi Sueno after a bold wide late move for Baze, who rode her for the first time that day. She was making her two-turn debut in the Oak Leaf.
“After she broke her maiden, the owner offered her for sale and we bought her right away," Hollendorfer said. "She was just a nice big filly, and she won so easy. I try to take these races one at a time, and this was the next step for her. She looks like she’s a pretty nice filly.
"She had a lot of trouble in her last race, maybe a little more than it looked like, so I thought if she had gotten a good break and didn’t get bumped down at Del Mar, I think she possibly could have won that race. Today, she came away and got fairly clear and rated down on the inside, so it wasn’t a problem for her once she got out of there.”
Hollendorfer said Blind Luck would go to the Breeders' Cup.
Now owned by Mark DeDomenico, Hollendorfer, and John Carver, Blind Luck has won three of four in her career with earnings of $267,900. The victory in the Breeders' Cup Challenge series qualified Blind Luck for the BC Juvenile Fillies Nov. 6 at Santa Anita.
Fairlawn Farm bred the winner in Kentucky. Blind Luck, out of Lucky One, by Best of Luck, was purchased as a yearling at Fasig-Tipton's Kentucky July sale last year.
Arnold Zetcher's homebred Always a Princess, who edged Pure Class and Blind Luck for lukewarm favoritism in the 11-horse field, ran commendably in her stakes debut. The daughter of Leroidesanimaux broke her maiden at first asking going 5 1/2 furlongs at Del Mar Sept. 5 for trainer Bob Baffert, accomplishing it while coming from well off the pace after being squeezed at the start.
“It’s hard to go wire-to-wire out there, especially on a horse like this that has only run the one time," Gomez said. "She’s very talented. I’m excited about her. I liked the way she did everything.”
Bickersons, overlooked in the wagering, also turned in a big effort in her synthetic track debut for trainer Kelly Breen. The Silver Deputy miss was coming off a third-place finish behind runaway victress Hot Dixie Chick in Saratoga's Spinaway Stakes (gr. I) Sept. 6.
"She loved the surface," Bravo said. "She got a bit tired, but I don’t blame her. She ran a really, really big effort.”
Sent off as the co-second choice, Blind Luck paid $9, $4.60, and $3.60, and was part of a $43 exacta. Always a Princess returned $4.60 and $4. Bickersons paid $11.40 to show.
It Tiz was 2 1/2 lengths back in fourth. She was followed by Softly Singing, Pure Class, Fairway Road, Kaloula, Forbidden Paradise, Maralago, and Repo. La Nez and Whispering Hush scratched.