My Gi Gi grabbed the lead in the final strides and held off the overwhelming favorite Lady of Shamrock by a nose for her first stakes victory in the $150,00 Honeymoon Handicap (gr. IIT) June 9 on the turf at Betfair Hollywood Park (VIDEO).
Ridden expertly by Rafael Bejarano, My Gi Gi races for Dennis Conner, Lloyd DeBruycker, and Wade Jacobsen. She is trained by Peter Eurton, who recently took over conditioning duties from Brian Koriner. The daughter of E Dubai and the Sadler's Wells mare Relish the Thought was bred in Kentucky by Darley.
My Gi Gi was coming off a nose loss in the one mile Senorita Stakes (gr. IIIT) over the course May 5. The bay filly completed the 1 1/8-mile Honeymoon distance in 1:49.22 over firm turf.
Lady Shamrock, sent off as the 1-2 choice in the field of five 3-year-old fillies, was seeking her third consecutive stakes victory and fifth win in her past six starts.
Saving ground throughout at the back of the pack, she was forced to wait for room when trapped along the inside. Once angled into the clear at mid-stretch, the 123-pound top weight finished with great energy while rallying from last under Alonso Quinonez. But the wire came up just in time for My Gi Gi.
"When I saw (Lady of Shamrock) was getting close to me (on the far turn) , I decided to get first jump on her," said Bejarano, who also won the Honeymoon in 2011 with Sarah's Secret. "I knew she was the one I had to beat and I thought that was the only way I could beat her. I was pretty lucky because she passed me just after the wire. My horse just never quit."
"I had nowhere to go so I had to go wide, I had no choice," Quinonez said. "They went too slow the first part, that's why they finished so strong. I thought I might have won, but I knew it was very close."
Long Face, who faded to last, recorded fractional times of :24.25, :49.18, and 1:13.94.
My Gi Gi, who ran 12th in last fall's Breeders' Cup Juvenile Filly Turf (gr. IIT), recorded her second win in seven lifetime starts. She boosted her earnings to $157,540. All but one of her races, and both victories, have been on grass.
"That was an unreal ride. You've got to give (Bejarano) a lot of credit," Eurton said. "It seemed like he was riding both his horse and (Lady of Shamrock). Obviously carrying the extra weight and the slow pace, getting first run meant everything.
"I thought she was going into this race a little on the aggressive side, but she was real relaxed and I hope she keeps improving with age. She can fill out and has every opportunity to be better than that. We'll kind of enjoy this right now and not get ahead of ourselves."
Sent off as the second choice, My Gi Gi carried 116 pounds and paid $8.40, $2.80, $2.20. Lady of Shamrock, winner of the nine-furlong Providencia Stakes (gr. IIIT) in her most recent start for trainer John Sadler, returned $2.20 and $2.10. The exacta was worth $15. Stormy Lucy paid $2.60 to show.
Trois Aureole finished fourth.