Customer Base, in a thrilling finish to the final stakes of the year at Santa Anita Park, nosed out Stormy Lucy in the $100,000 Robert J. Frankel (gr. IIIT) on the turf Dec. 29 (VIDEO).
Mike Smith piloted Customer Base to her first graded stakes win from well off the pace in the nine-horse field of fillies and mares. The 4-year-old daughter of Lemon Drop Kid , trained by Tom Proctor for owner Glen Hill Farm, completed the 1 1/8-mile distance in 1:46.45 over firm going.
Fourth at the furlong mark, Customer Base rallied on the outside of Stormy Lucy, who took the lead for Isaias Enriquez approaching the sixteenth pole, and the the game fillies fought it out in tight tandem to the wire.
Irish-bred Gulsary, the 2-1 favorite also trained by Proctor for Glen Hill Farm and ridden by Gary Stevens, was along late for third, 2 1/4 lengths behind the first two. Customer Base had been ridden by Stevens in her prior two starts.
"I don't want to sound cocky or anything, but it felt like a Zenyatta-type photo finish where everyone thought it was so close, but yet I was confident," said Smith, a Hall of Fame rider who completed a tremendous 2013 season with the victory. "She was just hanging there, just waiting. She knew she had done enough...The only thing I could do from that point was not to mess it up, so I just stayed with her."
Pacesetter Appealing gave way at mid-stretch after posting quarter mile fractions of :23.58, :47.05, and 1:10.80, and 52-1 shot Nickels Wild took over briefly.
"I knew the two outside horses (Appealing and Nickels Wild) would have speed so I could work out a good trip from that point unless I got buried, which could have happened," said Smith. "I thought the main horse to follow was Stormy Lucy, or our other horse (Gulsary), who was behind me, so I parked in behind Stormy Lucy and didn't move until I had to."
Bred in Kentucky by Edward Seltzer and Beverly Anderson out of the Tale of the Cat mare Little Cat Feet, Customer Base was a $170,000 yearling purchase out of the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky July sale in 2010.
Customer Base had been idle since running a close third in the Goldikova Stakes (gr. IIT) behind eventual grade I winner Egg Drop at Santa Anita Nov. 3. With the winner's share of $60,000, she increased her earnings to $322,182 from an overall mark of 5-3-2 in 18 races.
The third betting choice while carrying 119 pounds, Customer Base paid $10, $4.80 and $3.20. Stormy Lucy, off at 4-1, was mid-pack early and rallied from third to get the lead, paid $5.60 and $3.80. Gulsary, who appeared to have dead aim on the leaders turning for home, couldn't kick with her stablemate and settled for third in her United States stakes debut, paying $2.80 to show.
Proctor, who also won Saturday's $75,000 Eddie Logan Stakes with Enterprising, was glad to see Humberto Ascanio, former longtime assistant to the late Frankel, presenting the trophy in the winner's circle.
"It's a pleasure winning this race and seeing Humberto (who suffered a career-halting stroke two years ago)," said Proctor. "I always thought the most of Bobby Frankel. We started out, we didn't like each other too much. Then I got where I really thought a lot of him. He about put me out of business, claiming everything I had my first year in training, 'cause I was running them where they could win."
Nickels Wild finished fourth, beaten a nose by Gulsary. She was followed by second choice Moone's My Name, Champagneandcaviar, Becky Lou, Appealing, and Playful Humor.