Looking to rebound from a disappointing effort in the Gamely Stakes (gr. IT) one month ago, Malibu Pier put away three rivals in the $98,000 Beverly Hills Handicap (gr. IIIT) (VIDEO) on the Hollywood Park turf June 26.
Ridden by Brice Blanc for trainer Carla Gaines, B. Wayne Hughes' 4-year-old Kentucky homebred daughter of Malibu Moon --Blue Moon (by Lomitas) registered her third graded stakes win of the year for Spendthrift Farm. She completed the 1 1/4-mile test of older fillies and mares in 2:01.01 over firm ground while winning by 1 3/4 lengths as the 7-5 second choice.
Cozi Rosie, the 9-10 choice, overcame early trouble to get up at the wire for second by a nose over Restless Soul.
Malibu Pier failed to fire in the nine-furlong Gamely last time when running fifth. But the Beverly Hills set up perfectly for her.
The field was reduced to four when First Settler dumped jockey Tyler Baze in the post parade and eluded handlers, necessitating her scratch along with outsider Streamline Baby, who was withdrawn by trainer Darrell Vienna earlier.
Then odds-on favorite Cozi Rosie clipped the heels of Restless Soul dramatically soon after the start, spotting the field several lengths going into the first turn.
Restless Soul, ridden by Joe Talamo, found herself uncharacteristically setting the pace and Malibu Pier settled into an easy stalking trip behind her at the rail. Timezone raced in third with Cozi Rosie trailing. Fractions were soft -- :25.36, :49.98 and 1:13.93 -- as Malibu Pier tracked the leader.
Restless Soul attempted to open up on Malibu Pier rounding the final bend and had a two-length lead in upper stretch. But she could not resist Malibu Pier, who responded when asked by Blanc to get the advantage past mid-stretch.
Malibu Pier gradually drew away under good handling to win convincingly, paying $4.80 and $2.20.
"I feel very badly about what happened to Cozi Rosie, but you take your luck, don’t you? It’s a weird scenario when something like that happens because you really do feel bad for the trainer and their team," Gaines said. "But then you go, how many times does that happen to me?"
Gaines deferred when asked about Malibu's Pier effort in the Gamely.
"I know what was wrong going into her last race but I really don’t want to talk about it," she said. "She just didn’t go into the race perfect, let’s just put it that way. Not in terms of soundness, she’s a very sound filly.
Malibu Pier is nominated to the $750,000 Beverly D. (gr. IT) at Arlington Park Aug. 13, Gaines noted. Malibu Pier could also show up next in the $250,000 John C. Mabee Stakes (gr. IIT) Aug. 14, Gaines said.
After the poor beginning, it was a good effort by Cozi Rosie ($2.10 to place) to get up for second over Restless Soul while drifting out a bit in the later stages under Joel Rosario. The exacta with the two heavy favorites paid $7.60.
Malibu Pier won for the sixth time in 11 lifetime starts and extended her earnings to $407,200 with the winner's share of $60,000. She has won two of four starts at Hollywood Park.
Winner of the Santa Barbara Handicap (gr. IIT) at Santa Anita April 16, the chestnut filly is now two-for-two at the 10-furlong distance.
Blanc said he had a perfect trip sitting just off Restless Soul.
"She settled down real nicely for me today and just kind of picked it up," he said. "I thought I could outkick Joe’s horse, I was more worried about Cozi Rosie getting the jump on me. When Joe picked it up on the lead, I went right on with him and I just tried to make the same move I did in the Santa Barbara. She just drew away from them.”