Dubawi Heights, stepping into grade I company for the first time for trainer Simon Callaghan, collared pacesetter Celtic Princess just strides from the wire to win the $250,000 Gamely Stakes on the Hollywood Park turf course May 30 (VIDEO) .
The 28-year-old Callaghan earned his first grade I victory.
It was the fourth consecutive win for the 4-year-old Great Britain-bred daughter of Dubawi owned by the trainer's father Neville Callaghan, Clodagh McStay, M.V. Magnier, and Annabel Wyatt. Aston Mullins Stud bred Dubawai Heights, who is out of the Suave Dancer mare Rosie's Posy.
Callaghan indicated Dubawi Heights could be pointed to the Beverly D. Stakes (gr. IT) at 1 3/16 miles on turf to be run Aug. 13 at Arlington Park.
With Joel Rosario aboard, Dubawi Heights, sent off at odds of 9-2, won by a head over Celtic Princess, who gave way only stubbornly for Rafael Bejarano. Cozi Rosie, the 9-5 favorite in the field of eight older fillies and mares, finished third with Mike Smith aboard.
Final time for the 1 1/8-mile Gamely was 1:47.29 over firm going.
Dubawi Heights captured the Wilshire Handicap (gr. IIIT) for her first graded win April 30. She was a maiden when she arrived in Southern California from Britain last summer. The bay filly didn't get her first win until her third United States start -- and eighth race overall -- at Hollywood Park last November. Her best effort in England was a third-place finish in a group II event at York as a 2-year-old in August 2009.
“Everything we’ve asked, she’s really come well for us, this filly,’’ said the younger Callaghan. “She’s really improved and progressed each time.
“She was a good filly in Europe, stakes placed as a 2-year-old, but she’s had various injuries and setbacks which kept her off the track as a 3-year-old. She’s getting better with age and maturing. Getting a Grade I means everything. I am delighted for all of the owners. It’s fantastic. I couldn’t be happier.’’
Dubawi Heights has won all four of her starts since Callaghan teamed her with Rosario for the maiden tally. Her career mark stands at 4-3-1 in 12 races with earnings of $655,196. The Gamely victory was worth $150,000.
Celtic Princess, a 7-year-old Brazilian-bred mare, took the lead soon after the start and maintained a comfortable advantage over Dubawi Heights and Malibu Pier while posting quarter-mile fractions of :23.26, :47.52, and 1:11.68. Dubawi Heights closed in on the leader in the lane as Restless Soul and Cozi Rosie advanced from off the pace and Malibu Pier gave way.
But the closers were forced to settle for minor pieces as Dubawi Heights and Celtic Princess battled it out in the final furlong. Under strong handling by Rosario, Dubawi Heights would finally prevail over the surprising front-runner, who was at 9-1 odds.
“(Celtic Princess) got such an easy lead early, but my filly was traveling really nice and I had a lot of confidence in her,’’ said Rosario, who won his meet-best eighth stakes race. “I can see the improvement from race to race. She gets a hold of the track a lot better. The more she races, the better she gets.’’
“At the top of the stretch, I thought I was going to win the race because I had so much confidence in her and she tries so hard,’’ said Bejarano, who won this event in 2010 with the late Tuscan Evening and with Precious Kitten in 2008. “She showed me a big kick. My horse and the other horse (Dubawi Heights) were the only two that kept running. They both finished really strong.’’
It was 1 3/4 lengths back to Cozi Rosie in third. She was followed by Restless Soul, Malibu Pier, 123-pound topweight Eclair de Lune, Turning Top, and Madera Castana.
The first two combined for a $96.20 exacta. Dubawi Heights, carrying 117 pounds, paid $11.40, $7, and $3.80 as the third choice. Celtic Princess, making her grade I debut for trainer A.C. Avila, returned $12 and $5. Cozi Rosie, winner of the Buena Vista Handicap (gr. IIT) two starts back for trainer John Sadler, was $3 to show.