Rumor put it together for the Hall of Fame tandem of trainer Richard Mandella and jockey Mike Smith to register her first graded stakes victory in the $100,000 Las Flores Stakes (gr. III) (VIDEO) March 10 at Santa Anita Park.
Coming from slightly off the pace in the 6 1/2-furlong test of older fillies and mares, Rumor challenged 4-5 favorite Teddy's Promise past mid-stretch and edged away in the final stages for a half-length victory. Final time was a strong 1:15.44 over a fast track.
The 5-year-old Rumor is a daughter of Indian Charlie out of the Deputy Minister mare Mini Chat owned by Ramona S. Bass, Claiborne Farm, and Adele Dilschneider. The bay mare was bred in Kentucky by Stonerside Stable, Marula Park Stud, and Dr. and Mrs. Walter Zent.
Fifth in the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (gr. I) Nov. 3 at Santa Anita, Rumor had just one previous start this year. She finished a dull seventh after a poor start in the Wishing Well Stakes on the hillside turf course at Santa Anita Feb. 10.
Smith said he was unable to get Rumor into the race last time and he warmed her up really well prior to the Las Flores to make sure she was ready to run.
"She just locked on, and once she did that I knew she was going to run, it was just a matter of being good enough," said Smith. "You know, I'm not too sure Teddy's Promise ran her race today, but when I saw that she wasn't really kickin' on I thought I had a shot to win it."
Smith said he was fortunate to make the race. He had been on stand-by waiting for a flight to California from Arkansas since 4 a.m. after his original flight was canceled. He rode at Oaklawn Park March 9.
Rumor had three stakes wins previously—including two at 6 1/2 furlongs on the Santa Anita main track—most recently taking the L.A. Woman Stakes prior to last fall's Breeders' Cup.
"She had a perfect trip," Mandella said of the winner. "I didn't really think we'd beat Teddy's Promise, because she's such a good mare, but my mare ran her heart out today. She's not the best mare in the world, but she's not far off."
Teddy's Promise, following a pair of convincing stakes wins over wet/fast tracks at the current meet including a three-length triumph in the Santa Monica (gr. II) Jan. 26, was made the heavy favorite in a field reduced to six by a pair of scratches.
Rumor raced at the back of a close pack early for Smith as Shumoos gunned her way to the front under Garrett Gomez to lead the favorite and Sugarinthemorning through a quick opening quarter mile of :22.11. Teddy's Promise, under a confident Victor Espinoza, took over on the outside of Shamoos late on the backstretch, clocking a :44.64 half mile.
After ranging up to fourth on the turn, Rumor was poised to challenge even as Teddy's Promise took a two-length lead into the stretch. Those two soon left the rest of the field behind, with Rumor drawing even with Teddy's Promise approaching the sixteenth pole. She prevailed gamely under steady urging from Smith when Teddy's Promise, initially slow to respond to the challenge, battled back before giving way in the last strides.
"Once I got her clear she went on about her business," Smith said. "She went to the front a little sooner than you would want, but like I said, you never know with Teddy; she might fire a big one on us. You got to get her when you can, and that's what we did. She kind of loafed a little at the end and she won well within herself."
Teddy's Promise, the 123-pound high weight, was 6 1/2 lengths clear of third-place finisher Shumoos.
Espinoza said Teddy's Promise had an awkward start and was bumped early, then wanted no part of being rated.
"She's not that easy to ride, she likes it her way, and I didn't want to slow her down," Espinoza said. "I did want to slow her down and stay behind the other horse, but it's one of those things."
Sugarinthemorning, Belle of the Hall, and Distracting completed the order.
Rumor improved her career record 6-4-1 in 14 starts with earnings of $384,438.
Sent off as the third choice, Rumor carried 118 pounds and paid $15, $5, and $3, while keying a $33.80 exacta. Teddy's Promise returned $2.60 and $2.10, and Shumoos paid $2.60.
Mandella said he would consider shipping Rumor to Keeneland to run next in the Madison Stakes (gr. I) at seven furlongs on Polytrack April 13.
Quizzical and Pink Lollipops scratched.