Double Trouble Rumbles in 'Maria
Photo: Benoit
Double Trouble draws off in the Santa Maria.
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Double Trouble attained grade I glory in her first try for trainer Bobby Frankel with a come-from-behind victory in the $245,000 Santa Maria Handicap (VIDEO) on Santa Anita's Cushion Track Feb. 9.

The Brazilian-bred 5-year-old mare had a perfect trip under Rafael Bejarano, coasting up on the outside of odds-on choice Tough Tiz's Sis and Somethinaboutlaura mid-stretch. She had to work to get the lead under right-handed urging, but she drew off in the final furlong to an easy 4 1/2-length triumph in the 1 1/16-mile event for older fillies and mares.

The final time was 1:42.46 on the renovated Cushion Track, which had been closed for the prior week for repairs. A scratched down field of four contested the Santa Maria.

Double Trouble, primarily a grass horse, is undefeated in two tries on synthetic surface. Frankel made it back-to-back victories in the Santa Maria after winning the 2007 edition with Stronach Stables' Sugar Shake. He was ill Saturday and did not attend.

A daughter of Wild Event, Double Trouble won a grade II race in Brazil in 2006 prior to transferring to the U.S. last spring. In her first North American start, she ran fourth in the Wilshire Handicap (gr. IIIT) on the Hollywood Park lawn April 25, her only prior graded race in this country. Patricia Bozzano's bay improved her lifetime record to 7-1-5 in 15 starts and increased her earnings to $332,204 with the winning purse of $150,000.

“I didn’t know if she was going to like the track or not, but (Bejarano) just took his time when he saw those two horses going to the lead," said winning assistant trainer Humberto Ascanio. "Plus, Bobby never lost faith in this horse. He thinks she’s a nice filly, and he made a little adjustment in her last two races. She’s been lugging in, so Bobby changed her bridle and it helped.”

Though the pace was slow -- :24.27, :48.58, and 1:12.11 -- no one appeared all that happy with their positions. Tough Tiz's Sis, racing between horses just off pacesetter Zardana, pulled jockey Victor Espinoza wide into the first turn and ended up angling toward the rail to chase the leader. Somethinaboutlaura was wide down the backstretch for David Flores before launching her bid on the far turn.

Double Trouble, meanwhile, avoided the battle up front while saving ground most of the way. She tracked the leaders from three to four lengths behind. The millionaire Somethinaboutlaura challenged Tough Tiz's Sis leaving the final turn to get a narrow lead while wide, but neither of the leaders could stay with Double Trouble.

“I was sitting with a lot of confidence because she relaxed so well," Bejarano said. "I was able to sit and save some ground around the far turn, and when we got out there at the top of the stretch, she won pretty easy.”

Coming off a nose victory over Live Life and Shermeen in a one-mile optional claiming event on the Santa Anita turf Dec. 29, Double Trouble has done very well in nine U.S. starts. She has won four times with one second and two thirds and is yet to be worse than fourth. Haras Doce Vale bred Double Trouble, who is out of the Ghadeer mare Route Sixty Six.

The grade I winner Tough Tiz's Sis was coming off a second-place finish in the El Encino (gr. II) Jan. 13 for trainer Bob Baffert. The 4-year-old daughter of Tiznow  , who has now finished second in her past three starts, carried high weight of 119 pounds.

“The slow pace didn’t help me that much, and sometimes a small field like that can make it more difficult," Espinoza said. "I was down on the inside, and it’s a little heavier down there. I just got stuck down there all the way around. I was holding as much as I could for the end, but it didn’t help me much because they kind of slowed down on the first turn, and they were crawling. Just the same, she ran well.”

The winner carried 115 pounds to victory, paying $8.20 and $3. Tough Tiz's Sis, the 1-2 favorite, returned $2.20. It was 1 3/4 lengths to Somethinaboutlaura in third, with Zardana trailing. Dawn After Dawn, entered in the La Canada (gr. II) Feb. 10, and Sweet Belle scratched.

(Chart, Equibase)

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