All Star Heart circled the field in stretch and charged home impressively under jockey Brice Blanc to register her first graded stakes win in the $150,000 Las Palmas (gr. IIT) Nov. 6 (VIDEO), closing day of the Santa Anita fall meet.
Trained by Ron McAnally, Gerald Gibbs' Ontario, Canada homebred All Star Heart won for the fifth time in seven starts in 2011.
Under overcast skies following overnight rain, All Star Heart rallied from last in a field reduced to five by three scratches. The 4-year-old daughter of Arch completed the one-mile test for fillies and mares on a turf course rated "good" in 1:35.74.
Second choice All Star Heart, coming off a win in the restricted Swingtime Stakes at one mile Oct. 8, defeated City to City by two lengths. Sarah's Secret finished another three-quarters of a length farther back in third. Malibu Pier, the 7-5 favorite, finished fourth after being out-kicked late, 3 1/2 lengths behind the winner.
Ash Zee, the longest shot on the board at 15-1, set the pace, carving fractions of :23.95, :.48.72, and 1:12.50 as Sarah's Secret and Malibu Pier stalked. Sarah's Secret, bidding between horses on the far turn for Rafael Bejarano, challenged Ash Zee to take a narrow lead coming into the stretch. She battled Ash Zee and City to City, who had advanced into contention along the inside with Garrett Gomez aboard, while Malibu Pier tried to keep pace.
Meanwhile, All Star Heart, who had fallen back to last at the quarter pole, came wide into the stretch. She charged on the outside to get the lead past mid-stretch and edged clear under left-handed urging from Blanc to finish as much the best.
"I just followed Malibu Pier all the way around which was pretty much my strategy," Blanc said. "My filly relaxed really nice and did what I wanted her to do at the top of the lane and I was able to out-kick her. She has a tremendous finish. She’s a big strong filly who can cover a lot of ground.”
All Star Heart, who is out of the Ascot Knight mare Gift of the Heart, improved her career record to 5-1-1 in 15 starts with earnings of $261,705. The winner's share for the Las Palmas was $90,000.
Previously trained in Canada by Arthur Silvera, All Star Heart broke her maiden in her second start for McAnally in January. After back-to-back allowance wins this summer, she made her stakes debut in Del Mar's Palomar Handicap (gr. II) Sept. 5, rallying gamely to finish fourth, just one length behind the victorious City to City. She followed that effort with her first stakes score in Santa Anita's Swingtime.
“That’s her style of running," said McAnally about All Star Heart's come-from-behind effort. "I saw (City to City) go by her and I said, ‘Oh, hell.’ But then I knew we had plenty left when he (Blanc) hadn’t even asked her yet. It’s good for her to get that graded status on her resume.”
McAnally said he has not considered a next race for All Star Heart. The one-mile Matriarch (gr. IT) at Hollywood Park Nov. 25 would seem a likely spot, however.
She carried 119 pounds to victory and paid $7.20, $3.60, $2.80. City to City, the 124-pound high weight trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, returned $4.20 and $2.80 while rounding out a $24 exacta. Sarah's Secret, the lone 3-year-old in the field, was $3 to show.