Now four-for-four over the unique layout at about 6 1/2 furlongs, Gotta Have Her was cutting back in distance for trainer Jenine Sahadi after winning the 1 1/8-mile Palomar Handicap (gr. IIT) by a neck in her last start Sept. 9 at Del Mar. Regular jockey Tyler Baze rode the 5-year-old daughter of Royal Academy to victory for owner Green Lantern Stables in a sharp time of 1:12.09 on a hot day in Arcadia, Calif.
“She's fabulous. I’m so proud of her," said Sahadi of the winner, who they plan to race again next year. "Horses like her come along once in a lifetime for me. I know I can always count on her."
Sahadi added: "We are considering the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (over the course against males). She’s always had tons of raw talent. She’s just been a bit of a project, trying to get her to settle down. If you look back at her form a year and a half ago, she was on the lead, pulling, going very, very quickly. She’s been a little bit of a slow learner. Like I said, it’s been a lot of work. A lot of people have helped me with her in the mornings.”
Gotta Have Her rated mid-pack for Baze after being squeezed at the start. Pasar Silbano set a solid pace (:21.82, :43.90) coming down the hill while holding a commanding three-length lead. The 3-year-old filly Pasar Silbano proved difficult to collar as Tuscan Evening drew close in the homestretch.
But along the inside, Gotta Have, rallying from fifth, shot past the leaders before the eighth pole to win by two lengths under smooth handling.
“She’s never been beaten down the hill and I don’t think any horse can beat her here," Baze said. "The owners and Jenine have just been so nice to me; they let me ride her the last two times with a broken finger and she’s just a dream to ride. She’s so consistent. Today, I wasn’t worried about the temporary rail or if I could get through inside, because I had two options, I could’ve gone inside or outside.”
Pasar Silbano held second, with David Flores aboard, by 1 1/2 lengths, while Tuscan Evening, ridden for the first time by Victor Espinoza, settled for third.
Defending Maddy winner Queen Ofthe Catsle, the second choice, stalked the pace in fourth but had nothing left in the stretch and finished eighth.
Runner-up in the John C. Mabee Stakes (gr. IT) at Del Mar before winning her last two stakes efforts, Gotta Have Her has captured four of her eight starts this year with three seconds and a third. She has won five of nine tries on the Santa Anita turf.
Overall, her career mark stands at 8-6-3 in 23 races with earnings of $690,608.
Out of the Rahy mare Winnowing, the bay was bred in Kentucky by Nursery Place and Robert T. Manfuso.
Gotta Have Her carried top weight of 122 pounds and paid $5, $3.40, and $2.60. The Irish-bred Pasar Silbano, sent off at 21-1 in her first start since May 3 for trainer James Cassidy, returned $17.60 and $8.60 and rounded out a healthy $69.80 exacta. Tuscan Evening, another Irish-bred filly, was $3 to show.
The New Zealand mare Royal Taat finished fourth, followed by Gadget Queen, Reba Is Tops, Porto Marmay, Queen Ofthe Catsle, and Mohegan Sky. Flashover and Annihilation scratched.