California-bred Tribal Spy successfully stepped into open stakes company April 12 when she came from slightly off the pace to win the $100,000 Las Cienegas (gr. IIIT) at 11-1 odds on the hillside turf course at Santa Anita Park (VIDEO).
Coming off a one-length victory in the Irish O'Brien Stakes over the unique downhill course March 15, Tribal Spy hit the front near the eighth pole and held on gamely under Joe Talamo to defeat the onrushing Llandudno by a head as the longest shot on the board. Sky High Gal finished third in the field of seven older fillies and mares, with 7-5 favorite Biorhythm fourth.
The final time for the about 6 1/2-furlong trip was 1:12.12 over firm going.
Trained by Adam Kitchingman for Triple B Farms, one-time maiden claimer Tribal Spy posted her third win in four starts. By Tribal Rule out of the Victory Gallop mare Victory Spy, the 4-year-old chestnut filly was bred by Gary Barber.
"She loves this course," Kitchingham said of the winner. "Tribal Rules are doing great on the grass right now and she's a gutsy little filly."
Tribal Spy bobbled at the start and stalked in third while taken off the pace as Biorhythm and Sky High Gal forged to the front down the hill, with Biorhythm edging clear while clipping off speedy quarter mile fractions of :21.58 and :43.02.
Biorhythm took a two-length lead into the stretch but weakened in the drive as Sky High Gal, ridden by Rafael Bejarano, and Tribal Spy closed in. Tribal Spy hit the front while three wide between horses at mid-stretch and stubbornly held under Talamo's urging as Llandudno closed relentlessly on the outside for Tyler Baze.
"I was real pleased to see those two fillies on the lead (favored Biorhythm and Sky High Gal) goin' head and head," Talamo said. "They were going pretty quick. So we got a perfect trip. Turning for home I took her to the outside and she pretty much did the rest."
It was three-quarters of a length back to second choice Sky High Gal, and a half-length further to Biorhythm. The came Ciao Bella Luna, Macaabra, and Minds Eyes.
"She felt fine," Drayden Van Dyke said of the favorite Biorhythm. "I just went too fast. Once I crossed the dirt I thought we were home free but then I heard Trevor say she was struggling and I saw them coming at me. I thought I had it, but I went too fast."
Tribal Spy ran her career record to 6-3-1 in 15 starts and bumped her earnings to $298,610. She won for the third time in six tries on the hillside.
Carrying 118 pounds, Tribal Spy paid $25.60, $10.20, and $5. Llandudno, one of three in the field for trainer John Sadler, returned $10.60 and $5.40 as the second biggest price in the field. The two 11-1 shots combined for a $199.40 exacta. Sky High Gal, also trained by Sadler, paid $3.40.