Tuscan Evening Returns to Form in Las Palmas

Jerry Hollendorfer-trained filly rolls to 1 1/4-length win at Oak Tree.

(from Santa Anita report)

Irish-bred Tuscan Evening, who won five of her first six starts in the United Stakes prior to a two-race skid, regained her winning form in Oak Tree’s $200,000 Las Palmas Handicap (gr. IIT) for fillies and mares at one mile over Santa Anita’s Camino Real Turf Course.

Sent off as the 7-2 second choice in the stakes race that climaxed the Nov. 5 Breeders’ Cup World Championships program, Tuscan Evening prevailed by 1 1/4 lengths over 28-1 longshot Closeout while running the distance in 1:33.50.

With Rafael Bejarano in the saddle, the victorious 4-year-old filly tracked pacesetter Bahama Mama through moderate early fractions, took command entering the stretch and gamely withstood the late closers.

Closeout, ridden by Jose Lezcano, nosed out Cat by the Taleand jockey Kieren Fallon for the place in the field of 14. Tizaqueena, the 3-1 favorite, was never a serious factor while finishing 10th.

Tuscan Evening paid $9.80, $5.60 and $4.20. Closeout returned $23.20 and $14.60. Cat by the Tale paid $7.20 to show.

“She ran really good today,” Bejarano said after dismounting in the winner’s circle. “She’s run well with me on the lead and she’s run well up close. I think she’s going to improve a lot off this race. She showed me a big kick in the stretch and we had to run some to hold off those other fillies, but I still had something left.”

After four winless starts in Ireland and England last year, Tuscan Evening was obtained by William de Burgh, of Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., and placed in the care of veteran trainer Jerry Hollendorfer. A maiden winner in her first U.S. start, the bay filly rapidly ascended the class ladder. Tuscan Evening won Hollywood Park’s Grade II Royal Heroine Mile last July 11 before losing her next two starts.

The $120,000 winning purse in the 40th running of the Las Palmas elevated her career earnings to $509,408 from a career record of 6-3-5 in 20 starts.