Favored Tanda turned the tables on Irish Gypsy to record her first victory since May 2010, taking the $147,000 Rancho Bernardo Handicap (gr. III) (VIDEO) at Del Mar Aug. 21.
Making her first start for trainer Mike Mitchell, Tanda always looked like a winner, leaving Irish Gypsy and pacesetting Mildly Offensive behind in the stretch. She cruised home by 1 1/4 lengths while drifting to the inside under a strong hand ride from Joe Talamo. She's Cheeky closed belatedly to take second.
Owned by Tommy Hutton's Dream Stable, 4-year-old Tanda completed 6 1/2 furlongs in a strong 1:15.34 on Del Mar's Polytrack. The race was reduced to four contestants with three morning scratches.
“She made the lead and it looked like she was playing around a little bit, but right now a win’s a win," said Mitchell, who became Del Mar's all-time leading trainer recently. "We just wanted to get her in the winner’s circle."
Mildly Offensive, recovering after a stumble at the start, took the early lead as Irish Gypsy and and Tanda, on the far outside, prompted the pace through an opening quarter-mile of :22.83 and a half-mile in :45.15. Tanda glided up three wide leaving the turn and was soon in control, leading by 1 1/2 lengths at mid-stretch.
She's Cheeky, far back into the turn with Joel Rosario aboard, was second best while cutting into Tanda's advantage in the final furlong. Irish Gypsy, who defeated Tanda by 1 1/4 lengths in winning the A Gleam Handicap (gr. II) at Hollywood Park July 16, wound up third as the 121-pound topweight. Irish Gypsy was 2 1/2 lengths behind the runner-up while nosing out Mildly Offensive for third.
"I just sat on her to the top of the lane, then let her loose," said Talamo, who added that he was impressed by the way Tanda had been working in the mornings. "She actually started waiting on horses after we cut away from them. But she was fine. Ones like her are a pleasure to ride.”
Bred in Florida by Kristine L. Mitchell, Tanda is a daughter of Sweetsouthernsaint out of the Dr. Caton mare Doc's Stormy Gal. McKathan Bros., agent, sold the bay filly for $145,000 to Tommy Hutton's Dream Stable at the 2009 Ocala Breeders' Sales Co. spring sale of 2-year-olds in training.
Previously trained by Dan Hendricks, Tanda picked up her first victory in five starts in 2011. She won the Santa Paula (gr. III) and Railbird (gr. III) stakes in succession for Hendricks last spring. Tanda completed her 3-year-old campaign with a fast-closing third in the one-mile Betfair TVG Acorn Stakes (gr. I) at Belmont Park before going to the sidelines for 10 months.
“When we got this horse she was in great shape," Mitchell said. "She looked just like she does now. I don’t know if I trained her any different than Danny or not. But if you’re planning on the Breeders’ Cup, this was a must-win. You had to win this race. You couldn’t run second.”
With the Rancho Bernardo victory, Tanda improved her career record to 5-1-3 in 12 starts. She has earned $346,626. Her connections hope to run her in the Sentient Jet Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (gr. I) at seven furlongs at Churchill Downs in November.
Tanda carried 117 pounds and paid $4.80 and $3 as the 7-5 pick. She's Cheeky returned $3.80 as the longest shot on the board and completed an $8.30 exacta. There was no show wagering.
California Nectar, Jet Blue Girl, and Saanneen were scratched.