Saturday's Grade 3, $100,000
Stakes at Hollywood Park was loaded with European imports, graded stakes
runners and an alumna of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf, but none of
them could catch Val-U-Chem's stakes debutante Travesura. Stretching out to two
turns off a maiden score on Santa Anita's downhill turf, the Jeff Mullins pupil
stole the race on the front end under a cagey ride by Tyler Baze.
Travesura was overlooked at odds of 11-1 in the circumstances. She was overshadowed by such rivals as multiple Group 3-placed Premier Steps, the 4-5 favorite in her American debut for Chad Brown, and Surfer Girl romper Flashy Ways, looking to rebound off a troubled 11th in the Juvenile Fillies Turf. But the pace scenario appeared soft on paper, and Travesura took full advantage.After posting an initial quarter in :24 3/5 on the firm turf, Travesura continued to get away with splits of :49 1/5 and 1:13 2/5. The Limehouse filly then injected some speed turning into the stretch, getting seven furlongs in 1:25, and was all out to hold on inside the final furlong. Flashy Ways gained ground on the outside, and Irish import Pussycat Lips split horses to finish fastest of all, but not in time.
Travesura crossed the wire a half-length in front while completing the mile in 1:37. Now two-for-two since switching to turf, she sparked mutuels of $24.80, $8.40 and $6.20.
"I wasn't really expecting to be on the lead," Baze said. "If they let me go easy, I'm going to take it. The plan was to lay third or fourth. I really thought she could route after her last race. I knew she would be tough to beat today. This is a nice filly -- bigger and better things, maybe."
Pussycat Lips edged Flashy Ways for second by a neck in an encouraging, if frustrating, U.S. premiere.
"I just couldn't get any kind of running room," jockey Garrett Gomez said of his trip aboard Pussycat Lips. "I wound her up, but never was able to kick her into gear. I never hit her. She traveled well. She's a beautiful moving filly. She's not real big but covers a lot of ground."
Fellow import Birdlover, who had stalked in second early, kept on in fourth. Next came Somethingabouther, Premier Steps, Butterfly Soul, Redressthebalance and Miss Empire.
Premier Steps was out of sync after a troubled start, according to jockey Julien Leparoux.
"We got bumped pretty bad after the start and she never picked up the bit," Leparoux revealed. "The first part of the race, I had nothing, but she finished pretty well in the stretch. I think she's a little green. I think she'll be OK."
Travesura began her career on synthetic surfaces. Fifth to Executiveprivilege in her June 28 bow over Hollywood's Cushion Track, the chestnut was fifth again to Switch to the Lead and Scarlet Strike at Del Mar on July 29. Travesura was freshened until Santa Anita's autumn meet, when she tried turf in an about 6 1/2-furlong maiden October 7 and promptly rolled to a 3 3/4-length decision. Her first stakes coup advanced her record to 4-2-0-1, $95,600.
"I started thinking about this race after her last race," Mullins said. "There really wasn't anything else for her. It was our only option. My only worry was the distance. I know she can run and I knew she'd like the grass -- it just took forever to get her there."
Bred by Moonshadow Ranch in Kentucky, Travesura RNA'd for $19,000 as a Fasig-Tipton Kentucky July yearling before selling to her current connections for $60,000 at OBS this April. She is out of the Tale of the Cat mare Tempestra, who is a half-sister to New Jersey-bred stakes scorer Camacthmagnificent. Travesura's second dam is nine-time stakes heroine and multiple Grade 3-placed Kerygma.
Further back in the family, one finds champion and noted broodmare It's in the Air, whose descendants include multiple Grade 1 star Storming Home, English co-highweight and Australian Group 1 queen Alverta, French classic heroine Musical Chimes, multiple Grade 1 vixen Music Note and current Australian Group 1 winner Glencadam Gold. Also in the extended family are sire Native Royalty and Irish highweight Balanchine, winner of the Group 1 Epsom Oaks and Group 1 Irish Derby in 1994.