Recent British import Dubawi Heights swept past the leaders in the stretch to post her first stakes victory impressively for trainer Simon Callaghan in the $100,000 Wilshire Handicap (gr. IIIT) on the Hollywood Park turf April 30 (VIDEO).
The 1 1/2-length triumph was the third consecutive win in Southern California for the 4-year-old daughter of Dubawi who began her U.S. career last September after arriving from England.
“It’s been quite a long road with this filly," Callaghan said. "Since she came here, she got colic off the plane, she had a tibia injury, and she had knee surgery. This filly is unbelievably tough."
Joel Rosario guided Dubawi Heights to victory in her U.S. stakes debut for Callaghan, who trains the bay filly for the partnership of Neville Callaghan, Clodagh McStay, M.V. Magnier, and Annabel Wyatt.
Prominent throughout in the one-mile Wilshire, the stalking Dubawi Heights made the lead on the outside over Miss Pleasant and the fading Burg Berg past mid-stretch and had the measure of an unlucky Lilly Fa Pootz in the late stages. The final time was 1:35.21 over firm going.
Dubawi Heights actually made two bids for the lead during the race, dropping back a bit after ranging up to the leaders on the final turn before coming on again in the stretch.
Burg Berg set a pedestrian pace (:24.73, :49.16, 1:12.80) but had nothing left as Miss Pleasant, tracking in second for Chantal Sutherland, took the lead briefly at mid-stretch before giving way to the eventual winner. Lilly Fa Pootz, racing along the inside for Mike Smith, found herself in close quarters behind Burg Berg on the final turn. She steadied sharply and was forced to wait before eventually angling out for running room in the stretch.
"They had me down there in the pocket and I tried to hold her there and hold her there, and then they just sprinted home," Smith said, noting the final quarter-mile in :22.41. "She needs more of a longer run.”
Lilly Fa Pootz finished willingly to get second by a nose but never seriously challenged Dubawi Heights. Miss Pleasant held on for third by another nose over the 5-2 favorite Well Monied, who rallied four wide in the lane. The latter, winner of the 2009 Honeymoon Handicap (gr. IIT) at Hollywood Park, was making here first start since finishing fourth in last May's Gamely Stakes (gr. IT).
“I was just following the horse in front of me (Miss Pleasant)," Rosario said of the winner. "She took me to the right place and was doing it comfortably. They weren’t going that quickly up front. She’s getting better every race. Actually, I was surprised because she can finish better now. She made a little move at the quarter pole and really found her stride in the stretch.”
Callaghan said that Dubawi Heights would be pointed to this year's 1 1/8-mile Gamely on May 30.
Dubawi Heights was group II-placed at York as a 2-year-old but was winless in six starts in her native country. She broke her maiden in her third race in Southern California at Hollywood Nov. 28. She was off until April 1 when she returned with a 1 3/4-length victory in a first-level allowance turf test at one mile at Santa Anita. Her career record now stands at 3-3-1 in 11 races with earnings of $505,196.
Aston Mullins Stud bred Dubawi Heights. She is out of the Suave Dancer mare Rosie's Posy.
Sent off as the second choice, Dubawi Heights carried 117 pounds and paid $9, $5.20, and $3.80 while keying a $50.20 exacta. The Jerry Hollendorfer-trained Lilly Fa Pootz returned $4.80 and $3.60 while losing for the ninth consecutive time. Miss Pleasant was $14.60 to show in her graded stakes debut for Richard Mandella.
Well Monied, the 119-pound high weight, was followed by Burg Berg, Talktoomuch, Chilean-bred Vamo a Galupiar, Blue Maiden and Smart Striking. Givine, and Saanneen were scratched.