Grande Melody Tries 'Gorgonio for French Connections

(from Santa Anita report)
Grande Melody, winner of last month's Dahlia Handicap (gr. IIT) at Hollywood Park, could give leading 2006 North American jockey Julien Leparoux his first stakes victory at Santa Anita in the $150,000 San Gorgonio Handicap (gr. IIT) on the turf Sunday.

Leparoux, who won a nation-best 403 races last year, guided Grand Melody to a nose victory at 6-1 odds over favored Naissance Royale in the Dahlia Dec. 18 for trainer Patrick Biancone. The 4-year-old daughter of Grand Lodge will be a leading contender among seven starters in the 1 1/8-mile San Gorgonio for fillies and mares.

The field includes 120-pound high weight Beautyandthebeast and Matriarch Stakes (gr. IT) runner-up Three Degrees. Biancone looks for back-to-back wins in the San Gorgonio after winning the 2006 running with another Irish-bred, Silver Cup.

Leparoux, who is based in Kentucky, has been commuting to Southern California to ride mostly for Biancone, who won three stakes races at Santa Anita last year. Leparoux won his first race at Santa Anita Dec. 30 aboard a pick-up mount, Imitation, for trainer Mike Mitchell.

A 3-year-old filly owned by Joseph Allen who has earned $151,432, Grande Melody will carry 115 pounds while seeking her fourth win in eight starts, the last three in the U.S.

British-bred Beautyandthebeast, who has earned $275,184, has won six of her 15 starts including her last two over the Santa Anita turf course, Oak Tree’s Las Palmas Handicap (gr. IIT) and Swingtime Stakes. Regular rider Corey Nakatani will be aboard the 4-year-old filly trained by Neil Drysdale for Abergwaun Farm.

A 5-year-old gray mare trained by Paddy Gallagher, Three Degrees made up 14 lengths in the Matriarch only to miss by one-half length to victorious Price Tag. Alex Solis rides the Irish-bred who has posted a 3-6-2 mark in 14 races for earnings of $455,813.

Unbeaten E Z Warrior, sidelined since winning Hollywood Park’s Hollywood Juvenile Championship (gr. III) on July 4, returns to action in a supporting feature, the $75,000 San Miguel Stakes for 3-year-olds at six furlongs. David Flores, who was aboard for both victories, has the riding assignment atop the bay colt trained by Bob Baffert for Zayat Stables.

$150,000 San Gorgonio Handicap (gr. IIT, Race 8, 4:07 p.m.), Fillies & Mares 4 & Up, 1 1/8 Miles (Turf)
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Citronnade (KY), 114, David Flores
2. Rahys' Appeal (NY), 115, Aaron Gryder
3. Grande Melody (IRE), 115, Julien Leparoux
4. Strong Faith (KY), 112, Martin Garcia
5. Ready to Please (KY), 115, Garrett Gomez
6. Three Degrees (IRE), 117, Alex Solis
7. Beautyandthebeast (GB), 120, Corey Nakatani

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