Red-hot Izzy Rules, given a vigorous ride by Edwin Maldonado, romped to a front-running win March 11 in the $100,000 Las Flores Stakes (gr. III) as the 6-5 favorite at Santa Anita, registering her fourth consecutive victory. (VIDEO)
A 5-year-old mare by Peace Rules trained by Jeff Bonde, Izzy Rules won the 6 1/2-furlong event for older fillies and mares by 4 1/4 lengths in a time of 1:14.59 on a fast track. She could have been claimed for $20,000 as recently as last December. That's when she began her winning streak at Hollywood Park for owners George and Mary Clare Schmitt.
Previously racing at Turf Paradise and on the California fair circuit, Izzy Rules was making her graded stakes debut. Maldonado, who began to urge his charge leaving the turn, won his first stakes race at Santa Anita.
The winner was bred in Florida by Milan Kosanovich and is out of the Dayjur mare Da Dance. Bonde, who is attending the Ocala Breeders' Sales 2-year-old sale in Florida, was not present for Izzy Rules' victory. Miguel Carranza saddled her.
Izzy Rules has not been headed during her winning streak, which included a pair of optional claiming victories at Santa Anita to begin the year. The bay has won the four races by a combined 21 1/4 lengths.
She faced five opponents in the Las Flores. They included Home Sweet Aspen, winner of the Santa Monica Stakes (gr. I) after setting a soft pace Jan. 28, and Great Hot, who captured the Raven Run Stakes (gr. II) at Keeneland last fall.
But neither was any threat to catch Izzy Rules, who burst away from post 2 at the start to open up by two lengths after running the opening quarter mile in a sizzling :21.73. The half-mile went in an equally quick :43.31, and Maldonado was looking over his shoulder rounding the turn as Spectacular Sky, Veloce Canzone, and Home Sweet Aspen struggled to stay within hailing distance. Great Hot and She's Cheeky raced at the rear of the field.
At the top of the lane, Maldonado went to the whip briefly and continued to urge Izzy Rules through the stretch as she widened her advantage from 2 1/2 lengths in the final furlong. Spectacular Sky, ridden by Rafael Bejarano, held second by three parts of a length over the late-running She's Cheeky, who closed from last with Joe Talamo aboard. Great Hot was fourth, followed by Home Sweet Aspen. Veloce Canzone was far back in last.
“This win feels great, and it’s a dream come true," said Maldonado, a 29-year-old native of Puerto Rico. "I was hoping to win a stakes race here at Santa Anita, and I finally did. This filly is so nice going and is just easy to ride. My main concern during the race was to try and get to the quarter pole alone because I knew she would do the rest of the work for me.”
Izzy Rules ran her career record 7-3-2 in 17 starts with earnings of $234,306. She won her first two races as a 2-year-old including a stakes on the fair circuit in Northern California. But Bonde put her on the sidelines for 14 months midway through her 3-year-old campaign due to series of what he called "nagging injuries." She lost her first three starts following a return last September but has been untouchable since then.
She carried 118 pounds and paid $4.60, $3.20, $2.80 while topping an $18.20 exacta. Spectacular Sky, in her stakes debut for trainer Marty Jones, returned $4 and $3.40. She's Cheeky paid $3.40 to show.
"We ran into a buzzsaw today," Jones said. "The winner really likes this track and she’s getting good. My filly tried so hard and I’m proud of her."