This time, the photo went Evening Jewel’s way.
Making her turf debut, the odds-on favorite sailed to an easy lead and held off a late charge from Cozi Rosie to win the $150,000 Honeymoon Handicap (gr. IIT) (VIDEO) for 3-year-old fillies by a head May 31 at Hollywood Park.
The daughter of Northern Afleet won for the fourth time in 10 starts and notched her second graded stakes victory. She also avenged a heartbreaking loss to Blind Luck in the April 30 Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) when missing by a nose at Churchill Downs.
Under the guiding of Victor Espinoza, Evening Jewel took command early, carving out sensible fractions of :24.97, :50.29, and 1:14.52. Andina pressed the pacesetter the whole way, sitting within a length of the lead with Joe Talamo aboard. Triple Cream was also up close, and Cozi Rosie saved ground under Mike Smith.
Evening Jewel maintained her comfortable one-length advantage at the top of the stretch and continued to hold her rivals at bay through the final furlong. But Smith, who angled Cozi Rosie to the outside when rounding the final turn, was in all out pursuit of the leader from the center of the racetrack in deep stretch. She ran out of room, as Evening Jewel had just enough to get to the wire first.
The final time for nine furlongs on the firm turf was 1:48.87. Cozi Rosie was a length in front of third-place City To City in the field of seven.
Prior to the Kentucky Oaks, Evening Jewel captured the grade I Ashland Stakes on the Polytrack for James Cassidy, who trains the chestnut filly for Tom and Marilyn Braly. She is now 4-5-0 from 10 starts with earnings of $606,943.
"I think that I'll swim her next, that's the only thing she hasn't done yet," Cassidy said. "She's just a wonderful filly.
"With that kind of pace and as keen as she was she didn't try to pull or get a little rank. She's worked over the turf fabulously, but you never know. The American Oaks (gr. IT, July 3 at Hollywood) and the Del Mar Oaks (gr. IT, Aug. 21) are next and that takes her to the end of the summer. Then the Queen Elizabeth II (gr. IT, at Keeneland in the fall), if everything goes well."
The winner was bred in California by Betty and Larry Mabee. She is out of the Giant's Causeway mare Jewel of the Night.
Sent off at odds of 9-10, Evening Jewel paid $3.80, $2.80, and $2.40. The exacta (5-1) returned $6.90 for a $1 and the trifecta (5-1-2) was $21 for $1.