Stardom Bound stretches for the win in the Santa Anita Oaks.<br><a target="blank" href="">Order This Photo</a>

Stardom Bound stretches for the win in the Santa Anita Oaks.
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Stardom Bound Barely Best in 'Anita Oaks

Champion filly gets up by a slender nose over unheralded Third Dawn.

Champion filly Stardom Bound, seven wide at the top of the lane, got up in the final stride by a nose over unheralded Third Dawn to win the $300,000 Santa Anita Oaks (gr. I) (VIDEO) for her fifth consecutive grade I win March 7.

Ridden to victory by Mike Smith, the daughter of Tapit  was sent off at odds of 2-5 while prevailing in the most difficult race of her career. The strapping gray/roan filly is owned by IEAH Stables and partners and trained by Bobby Frankel.

“I thought she won, watching the race live . . . I’m just lucky my heart’s strong,” Frankel said. It was the third Santa Anita Oaks victory for Frankel, who won with Ariege last year and You in 2002.

Stardom Bound, at the rear of the nine-horse field, wound up for her patented late bid on the outside midway on the final turn. But as the field bunched up, she lost ground and had just one horse beaten at the head of the stretch. Under strong right-handed urging through the lane, she gradually picked off her rivals, getting to within one length of the leader, Hooh Why at the sixteenth pole. Stardom Bound stretched for everything she had in the final strides to get up by the narrowest of noses. It was another nose to third-place finisher Hooh Why.

“It seemed like she got lost out there early. We had a terrible trip," Smith said. "When I moved out with her turning for home, everybody else went out at the same time and we got caught really wide. From the sixteenth pole home, I thought we could grind ‘em down, but I was worried.

"At the wire though, she put her ears up and she was playing with the pony coming back. Maybe this is the kind of race she needed. I guess you could say it was a not-so-heady ride.” 

Third Dawn, facing winners for the first time for trainer John Sadler, was an unlucky runner-up just to Stardom Bound's inside after putting her head in front of Hooh Why in the shadow of the wire. The final time was 1:43.62 for the 1 1/16-mile distance over the Pro-Ride racing surface.

Burg Berg, under Tyler Baze, led for the first half-mile, setting easy fraction of :23.78 and :47.54 before Hooh Why, prompting the pace in second, gained the lead on the final turn after completing six furlongs in 1:12.12. Hooh Why crept away in the stretch but was challenged by Third Dawn, the two bumping near the sixteenth pole but continuing on gamely to the wire only to be caught on the line by the Stardom Bound.

“I wasn’t paying attention to fractions, I was just watching her run. (Smith) said they (other riders) were looking for her all the way, you know? . . . I wasn’t concerned about any of them. I was just concerned about her.”

For now, it appears her connections will reconsider sending last year's Eclipse Award juvenile fillies champion against the males in the April 4 Santa Anita Derby (gr. I).

"She worked pretty hard today against the girls," Michael Iavarone, who manages IEAH Stable, told HRTV after the race. "She’s going to have to really prove herself to handle horses like Pioneerof the Nile . . . If they think they want to go forward, I’m willing to go forward, but she worked pretty hard against girls today.”

Frankel said Stardom Bound was more fit for this race than she was for the one-mile Las Virgenes Stakes, which she won by 1 1/4 lengths on Feb. 7.

“She had to be," he said. "She only ran 10 lengths farther than anybody else in the race (Oaks).”

With five wins and two runner-up finishes in seven starts, Stardom Bound earned $180,000 for the Oaks win to boost her career bankroll to $1,780,600.

Stardom Bound's last four victories have come on the Santa Anita Pro-Ride, including last fall's Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I), which she won by 1 1/2 lengths in impressive late-running style. She was purchased by IEAH Stables from Charles Cono for $5.7 million following that win and is now owned in a partnership that includes Paul Pompa Jr., Michael Dubb and Golden Goose Entertainment.

Bred in Kentucky by  Fletcher Gray, Carolyn Gray and John Youngblood, Stardom Bound is out of the Tarr Road mare My White Corvette.

Under equal weight of 122 pounds,Stardom Bound paid $2.80, $2.40 and $2.10. Third Dawn, ridden by Rafael Bejarano at odds of 35-1, returned $12.40 and $7.20, completing a $2 exacta worth $49.80. Hooh Why was $5 to show with Robby Albarado aboard.

Stardom Bound paid $2.80, $2.40 ,and $2.10. Third Dawn, ridden by Rafael Bejarano at odds of 35-1, returned $12.40 and $7.20, completing a $2 exacta worth $49.80. Hooh Why was $5 to show with Robby Albarado aboard.

Nan finished fourth, followed by Burg Berg, Beltene, Miss Silver Brook, Stormy Slew and Will O Way. Acronym scratched.