Odds-on pick Nashoba's Gold, half sister to multiple grade I winner Noshoba's Key, unleashed a terrific closing kick to win the $200,000 Honeymoon Stakes (gr. IIT) impressively on the Santa Anita Park turf May 4 (VIDEO).
With Joe Talamo aboard, the tractable filly circled the leaders four wide coming off the far turn to challenge. In the drive, Nashoba's Gold overpowered Diversy Harbor in the final furlong to take command and held her rival safely at bay to win by a length. She was timed in 1:48.61 for 1 1/8 miles on firm turf.
Like her $1.2 million-earning sibling, Nashoba's Gold races for Carla Gaines, who conditions the daughter of Smart Strike out of the Caerleon mare Nashoba for owner/breeder Warren B. Willamson.
"She reminds me so much of her sister," Talamo told HRTV afterward. "I think she has a good shot to be just as good as her."
"She's a very special filly," said Gaines after the win
Winner of the 1 1/8-mile Providencia Stakes (gr. IIIT) in her most recent start at Santa Anita April 5, the fast-developing Nashoba's Gold has captured three of four lifetime starts. She defeated Diversy Harbor in both graded stakes wins after losing to her in the one-mile China Doll Stakes a month before the Providencia.
Diversy Harbor, unexpectedly challenging pacesetter One More until giving way in deep stretch, lost second money at the wire to Sweet Bliss, at 29-1 the longest shot in the field of six sophomore fillies.
The Honeymoon, a 62-year fixture on the Hollywood Park stakes schedule, was raced for the first time at Santa Anita. It is a prep for the $350,000 American Oaks (gr. IT), another refugee from the Hollywood calendar, to be contested at 1 1/4 miles May 31.
With Drayden Van Dyke riding for the first time, Glen Hill Farm's Diversy Harbor was rank past the grandstand the first time while engaging One More for the lead through modest quarter mile fractions of :23.89, :48.53, and 1:13.25. Honey Ride, toward the inside, and Margot Machance were both in good stalking position as Nashoba's Gold and Sweet Bliss trailed.
Nashoba's Gold, running uncovered around the final turn, advanced into fourth at the quarter pole and was poised to threaten as Talamo angled her to the far outside coming out of the bend. Diversy Harbor took the lead from the weakening One More but was confronted by Margo Marchance, with Nashoba's Gold surging toward home on the far outside. Still fourth at the eighth pole, the long-striding gray/roan filly swept past Diversy Harbor a sixteenth of a mile from home and scored under a long hold from Talamo.
"I don't think there are any distance limitations for her," Talamo said of Nashoba' Gold, noting that her sister was his first grade I winner when he was just 17. "The further the better. I could just tell galloping after the races; sometimes I need the outrider to pull me up because she just wants to go. Hopefully, she can be as good as her sister was."
Sweet Bliss, who closed from fifth at eighth pole for Aaron Gryder, got her nose on the line to nip Diversy Harbor for second. Margo Machance and One More followed, with Honey Ride pulled up after giving way in upper stretch. She walked off the course under her own power.
Gaines said after the race that Nashoba's Gold would stay in California for the time being and is being pointed to the American Oaks. Nashoba's Gold has now banked $259,380.
Sent off at 7-10 while carrying 117 pounds, Nashoba's Gold paid $3.40, $2.60, and $2.20 while topping a $50.20 exacta. Pam and Martin Wygod's homebred Sweet Bliss returned $13.20 and $5.60 in her stakes debut for trainer John Shirreffs. Diversy Harbor paid $2.60 as the 19-10 second choice.