Heavily Favored Gotta Have Her angled to the outside for jockey Tyler Baze and outfought the game pacesetter Burg Berg in deep stretch to win the $150,000 Royal Heroine Mile Stakes (gr. IIT) (VIDEO) by a half-length at the Hollywood Park July 3.
Third in last year's Royal Heroine behind the victorious Tuscan Evening, Gotta Have Her registered her first win in three starts in 2010 for trainer Jenine Sahadi and owner Green Lantern Stables. The 6-year-old daughter of Royal Academy--Winnowing, by Rahy, appreciated a cut-back in distance after fading to sixth in the nine-furlong Gamely Stakes (gr. IT) in her last prior start May 29.
"Today was crunch time," Sahadi said. "I felt good; I didn’t have any issues going into today. Not physical issues, it’s just that it was hard to train (her) this winter. She was really tired out of the last race (the Gamely) and you just wonder sometimes if you turn them out whether they’re going to come back the same."
She said the 1 1/8-mile John C. Mabee Stakes (gr. IIT) at Del Mar Aug. 15 is a likely destination.
"She ran second in the race last year and likes that turf course," Sahadi said. “She needs an ideal setup to go a mile and one-eighth, to be honest."
The winning time for the Royal Heroine was 1:34.98 over firm going.
Toting top weight weight of 121 pounds, Gotta Have Her trailed a closely grouped field of six into the final turn while saving ground. Burg Berg showed the way through fractions of :23.99, :48.03, and 1:11.67 with outsider Rosey de Megeve chasing in second. Baze took advantage of a small gap to his outside leaving the bend with Gotta Have Her to launch a four-wide bid into the stretch. Gotta Have Her got first run on second choice U R All That I Am, who had to wait behind horses along the inside as Gotta Have surged past a weakening Rosey de Megeve on the outside.
Gotta Have Her took the lead past mid-stretch but had to dig in under right-handed urging to keep off Burg Berg, who fought back stubbornly along the rail for jockey Joel Rosario. U R All That I Am, ridden by Rafael Bejarano, finished up willingly in third, one length behind the runner-up, after finally getting clear in the final furlong. Great Britain-bred Rosey de Megeve was fourth, followed by Spring Style and Exquisite.
“I got shut off really bad right out of the gate and after that I just had to go out there and ride the rest of the race with confidence," Baze said. "I know she’s going to give me what she has … whatever’s in her tank, she’s always going to give it. She always has and she always will. I followed Bejarano’s horse (U R All That I Am) the whole way really until the middle of the turn when I kind of pushed her out of the way.
"She’s a very special mare for me and I’m looking forward to bigger and better things with her.”
Thanks to her ninth triumph in 27 lifetime starts, the multiple graded stakes winner Gotta Have Her boosted her earnings to $972,608 with the winner's share of $90,000. She has been worse than third just once in 10 tries at the one-mile distance while winning three times.
Baze guided Gotta Have Her to a second-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint on the hillside at Santa Anita last fall. The bay mare's last win came over that course in Oak Tree's Sen. Ken Maddy Handicap (gr. IIIT) last October.
Nursery Place and Robert T. Manfuso bred Gotta Have Her in Kentucky.
She paid $4.20, $2.80 and $2.10. Burg Berg posted her third consecutive runner-up finish at the current Hollywood meet for trainer Paco Gonzalez, returning $6 and $2.80. The exacta was worth $28. U R All That I Am, who had defeated California-bred fillies and mares at Hollywood in her two most recent races for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, was $2.20 to show.