In a battle of Eastern invaders down the Santa Anita stretch, Amen Hallelujah overpowered Franny Freud in the final strides to win the $150,000 Santa Ynez Stakes (gr. II) by three-quarters of a length Jan. 16 (VIDEO).
Amen Hallelujah, who broke her maiden at Arlington Park in August, defeated five 3-year-old fillies in the Santa Ynez for her first stakes victory for trainer Rick Dutrow Jr. and owners IEAH Stables and Whizway Farms. The final time for the seven-furlong test on Pro-Ride was a solid 1:21.39.
With Chantal Sutherland aboard, Amen Hallelujah rated off the the rail in fourth as Switch and 3-2 favorite She's Funomenal vied for the lead with Franny Freud in close attendance in third place. After quarter-mile fractions of :22.89 and :45.24, She's Funomenal, along the inside, threw in the towel. Switch, ridden by Rafael Bejarano battled on as Franny Freud and Garrett Gomez closed in on her outside.
Amen Hallelujah, rallying four wide on the grandstand side, joined the leaders in upper stretch and edged away in the final furlong while enjoying a nine-pound weight advantage over Franny Freud, who lugged 123. Switch held third, a half-length behind the runner-up, with Whispering Hush closing mildly for fourth. She's Funomenal and Seriously trailed.
“I hate to say it, but she’s really easy to ride," said Sutherland, who was aboard Amen Hallelujah for the first time. "She’s calm, cool and you don’t have to do much as a jockey."
Sutherland won her first graded stakes at Santa Anita. One of the leading riders at Woodbine in Toronto, she is riding her third season at the Santa Anita meet. Her only previous stakes win at the track was achieved in the 2008 Irish O’Brien Stakes atop Lightmyfirebaby. The 33-year-old jockey’s only previous graded stakes victory in the United States came aboard Smokume in the Tom Fool Handicap (gr. II) at Belmont Park in 2005.
"I could see they were going really fast on the lead, and I loved it. The pace was sweet and I didn’t want to move too soon because I didn’t want to get fanned too wide. It was like watching a movie, the way it set up, it couldn’t have been any better. I was concerned about Garrett’s (Franny Freud) horse but when I asked my filly she had plenty in reserve. The move she made was just fantastic.”
A Florida-bred daughter of Montbrook out of the Concorde's Tune mare Sara's Success, Amen Hallelujah has performed on synthetic tracks in all seven of her starts so far. Amen Hallelujah shipped to the West Coast last month for the 1 1/16-mile Hollywood Starlet (gr. I), where she faded to third after leading the field into the stretch. She ran third in Keeneland's Alcibiades (gr. I) prior to that.
The Santa Ynez victory, her third win, was worth $90,000 and boosted her overall earnings to $222,370.
“Chantal gave her a great ride," said Michelle Nevin, chief assistant to Dutrow, who was in Florida. "The filly settled nice for her and it was perfect.”
Thorobeam Farm bred the winning dark bay or brown filly. She was a $40,000 Keeneland yearling sale in September 2008.
Sent off as the third choice, Amen Hallelujah paid $8.40, $4.20 and $3.10 and topped a $24 exacta. New York-bred Franny Freud, a three-time stakes winner as a 2-year-old for trainer John Terranova, returned $3.40 and $3.20. Switch, a two-length maiden winner in her only prior start last month, was $4.20 to show in her jump to graded company for trainer John Sadler.