Even-money choice Lady of Shamrock was best by far in the $300,000 Del Mar Oaks (gr. IT), taking the overland route from last to a half-length victory Aug. 18 (VIDEO) .
Ridden by Mike Smith, Lady of Shamrock launched her bid rounding the far turn but had nowhere to go on the tight turf course at Del Mar. Smith angled her to the far outside where she circled her rivals impressively while about seven paths wide.
The winning time for the 1 1/8-mile test of 3-year-old fillies was 1:46.30, just off the stakes mark of 1:46.26 set by Amorama in 2004.
Lady of Shamrock made it consecutive grade I wins for owner Kosta Hronis and trainer John Sadler. The daughter of Scat Daddy, an $11,000 graduate of the 2011 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic sale of 2-year-olds in training, won the American Oaks (gr. IT) over 10 furlongs at Betfair Hollywood Park July 14. She is the first grade I winner for the second-crop sire Scat Daddy, a son of Eclipse Award winner Johannesburg.
Stormy Lucy, the longest shot in the field at 43-1, was a determined second, with Open Water third.
Smith said he was comfortable with his position throughout.
"She’s one of those fillies with such a wicked turn of foot that you have to be careful," Smith said. "If you niggle on her a little bit, she goes from last to first right now. You’ve got to trust her. Taking the overland was no problem. No problem at all with her.”
Lady of Shamrock, out of the Blushing John mare Blushing Issue, was bred in Kentucky by Grovendale Sales. The dark bay or brown filly has now won four of six starts in 2012. Lady of Shamrock is a half sister to grade II winner Smooth Jazz.
With the victory, Lady of Shamrock has now banked $645,400 in her career.
Best Present Ever had the early lead in the Del Mar Oaks before San Clemente Handicap (gr. IT) winner Eden's Moon ranged up on her outside to vie for the advantage. They ran head and head while clicking off quarter-mile splits of :23.67, :47.12, and 1:10.89 for the opening six furlongs. The two leaders weakened in the lane, however, allowing Open Water to take a one-length margin over Stormy Lucy at mid-stretch.
Lady of Shamrock, crowded at the start after breaking from post 2, was allowed to drop to the rear of nine-horse field. That's where she remained until the far turn when Smith asked her to engage her rivals. Angled wide coming off the bend, she charged home under left-handed urging, getting the lead at the sixteenth pole and outfighting a game Stormy Lucy to the wire under steady handling by Smith.
“We got a little pace, but when you’re even money and you’re running from the back it’s always a little gut-wrenching," Sadler said. “I saw :23, :47, I was feeling good. The last time she closed into a :50 half. Very nice ride. A little wide, but when you’re on the best horse you don’t want to get in trouble. We thought she was the best horse and she lived up to the billing today."
Stormy Lucy, ridden by Martin Pedroza, was second by 2 1/2 lengths over 25-1 Open Water and Agapito Delgadillo. My Gi Gi, the last horse to defeat Lady of Shamrock (by a nose in the grade II Honeymoon Handicap June 9) finished fourth, followed by Eden's Moon, Long Face, Indigo River, Mary Fildes, and Best Present Ever.
Lady of Shamrock improved her overall record to 6-1-1 in 10 lifetime starts. In addition to the American Oaks, she also won the Providencia (gr. IIIT) and China Doll stakes at Santa Anita Park this season.
Sadler said Lady of Shamrock could next run in either the open Rodeo Drive (gr. IT), formerly the Yellow Ribbon, at Santa Anita going 1 1/4 miles Sept. 29, or the nine-furlong Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (gr. IT) restricted to 3-year-old fillies Oct. 13 at Keeneland.
“She’s very good at Santa Anita, so we’ll probably be leaning on staying home," he said.
Under equal weights of 122 pounds, Lady of Shamrock paid $4, $3, and $2.40 while topping a $114.20 exacta. Stormy Lucy, who ran fifth in the American Oaks last time for trainer Frank Lucarelli, returned $22.20 and $8.80. Open Water, who paid $8 to show, completed a $1,452 trifecta.