Concave fights off She's a Tiger to win the Sorrento.

Concave fights off She's a Tiger to win the Sorrento.

Benoit Photo

Concave Rounds Out Nicely in Sorrento Score

Much-need win for Doug O'Neill barn moves Reddam Racing filly to top of her class.

Concave moved to the head of the Southern California juvenile filly division for Reddam Racing and trainer Doug O'Neill with a game half-length victory over She's a Tiger in the $150,000 Sorrento Stakes (gr. II) Aug. 7 at Del Mar (VIDEO).

Stop Smiling, the even-money favorite in the 6 1/2-furlong Polytrack test, was 4 1/2 lengths farther back in third. The final time was 1:17.45.

Concave became the first stakes winner for freshman sire Colonel John, who stands at WinStar Farm.

O'Neill was 2-for-44 at the Del Mar meet before Wednesday, when he won three races. He was understandably relieved to take the Sorrento, a race that was improved to a grade II this season. It is the main prep for the Del Mar Debutante (gr. I) at seven furlongs Aug. 31.

"It was like I was Alaska there, our barn was very frigid," O'Neill said. "But we kept the faith, kept taking good care of them and kept leading them over here and hoping to break through. And we broke through today. (Concave) could be very special if she stays healthy. The Debutante is next, that's the plan."

Mario Gutierrez, who rode I'll Have Another to a 3-year-old championship for Paul Reddam and O'Neill, used a stalking trip aboard Concave before circling the leaders in upper stretch to challenge She's a Tiger on the outside. Virtually even at the furlong mark, Concave gradually got control over the Landaluce Stakes winner and was inching away as they reached the wire.

"She's a nice filly and she ran nicely today," said an enthused Gutierrez. "I think she'll go on, too. The way she trains and the way she runs says she should have no problem going further. I am so happy when I win a race for Mr. Reddam and Doug. They were the ones who got me started down here. But you have to know I'm happy anytime I win a race here. This is a special place and I want to be one of the leading riders here. So anytime I win a race, it is special. It all feels good."

The previously unbeaten She's a Tiger, ridden by Frank Alvarado for trainer Jeff Bonde, took the lead leaving the turn after chasing Side Letter through brisk fractions of :22.24 and :45.65.

"She ran her race and she ran well," said Alvarado. "(Concave) was just better today. We'll live to fight another day."

Stop Smiling took the favorite's role for Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer after a smart debut maiden score one month ago at Betfair Hollywood Park. Ridden by Julien Leparoux, the daughter of It's No Joke sat off the early pace and made a mild rally after angling out for the drive.

"It was a good race for her, especially when you consider it was only her second start," Leparoux said. "She broke well and ran well. And I think the farther they go, the better she'll like it."

E Equalsmcsquared, Santa Lucia, Love Smitten, and Side Letter completed the order.

Concave is the seventh winner from eight starters and first graded stakes winner for her dam, the winning Ascot Knight mare Galadriel. Bred in Ontario, Canada, by Windways Farm, the bay filly was purchased by Dennis O'Neill, Doug's brother, for $160,000 at the Ocala Breeders's Sales Company's select 2-year-old sale this spring when consigned by De Meric Sales.

Nick de Meric paid $75,000 for the filly from the Vinery Sales consignment as a 2012 Keeneland September yearling.

Concave, who earned $90,000 for the victory, is a half to graded stakes-placed filly Peisinoe. She won her debut by 3 1/2 lengths going five furlongs on turf July 12 at Hollywood as the 7-5 favorite.

Sent off as the second choice, Concave paid $8.60, $4.60, and $3. She received four pounds from She's a Tiger, who carried 123 and returned $5 and $2.80. The exacta was worth $38.20. Stop Smiling paid $2.20 to show.