Reneesgotzip gave trainer Peter Miller every reason to be confident heading into the Rancho Bernardo Handicap (gr. III) (VIDEO) Aug. 18 at Del Mar, and his speedy 4-year-old filly showed why with a 4 1/4-length romp in record time for 6 1/2 furlongs on Polytrack.
"What can I say? She's just the fastest thing on four legs," Miller said. "The track record did surprise me a little bit, yeah."
Four-year-old Reneesgotzip was clocked in 1:14.48, shaving more than two-fifths of a second off the former Polytrack mark of 1:14.93 recorded by the 3-year-old filly Carlsbad in the 2009 Rancho Bernardo.
It was the second start of the season for the daughter of City Zip, who made her seasonal bow July 18 at Del Mar with a 5 1/4-length tally in a strong six-furlong allowance race. Garrett Gomez, who missed that start while attending to personal problems, was back aboard the filly for owners Lanni Family Trust.
"You never want to be overconfident, but you know she loves this racetrack and it was a good setup," Miller said.
After a season of near-misses in 2012, including runner-up finishes in the Las Virgines Stakes, Santa Anita Oaks, and La Brea Stakes, and a third in the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint (all gr. I), this should be the year Reneesgotzip breaks through at the elite level. The Rancho Bernardo win was the first in a graded stakes for her since taking the Santa Ynez (gr. II) at Santa Anita Park in January 2012.
Bred in Kentucky by John Liviakis out of the Distorted Humor mare No Dress Code, the powerful chestnut filly was a $45,000 buy at the Ocala Breeders' Sale Company as a 2-year-old in April 2011.
Just four challenged Reneesgotzip, the 3-10 choice who grabbed the lead soon after the start from Sweet Marini and quickly opened a 2 1/2-length advantage. Reneesgotzip stepped a lively first quarter in :22.43 but was even quicker in the next split (:22.03) to complete the half in in :44.46.
"She left there good, but then she seemed to lose focus for a little bit," Gomez said of the trip up the backstretch. "She was changing leads back and forth and I just tapped her on the shoulder to try to get her back on track. And then it was 'oh, oh.' She set sail and she was almost gone."
Sweet Marini was trying to stay close while angled in on the turn by Martin Garcia. Winding Way, the 2012 Rancho Bernardo winner, chased those two along with Sugarinthemorning.
Gomez urged Reneesgotzip along a bit in the lane as they reached the eighth pole four lengths in front. She clocked six furlongs in 1:08.18, which in itself was just .01 off the track mark, and still came home under a long hold in a good 6.3 seconds for the final sixteenth.
"She's very, very fast and that's her main weapon," Gomez said. "But she's got another dimension to her. She doesn't have to be on the lead, but when she's running like she did today you really don't want to do anything else with her. She's a nice one, no doubt. And you love to ride horses like her."
Winding Way, ridden by Rafael Bejarano, was a clear second by 3 3/4 lengths, with Sweet Marini holding for third by a nose over Sugarinthemorning. Curvy Cat trailed.
Reneesgotzip, now with seven wins from 12 starts, extended her earnings to $655,460.
Carrying top weight of 120 pounds, she paid $2.60, $2.40, $2.10. Winding Way, part of an exacta worth $12.60, returned $5.40 and $2.80. Sweet Marini paid $2.40.