Overlooked Healthy Addiction went gate to wire on a sealed track for jockey Jon Court to win her first grade I race in the $300,000 Santa Margarita Invitational Handicap under rainy skies Saturday at Santa Anita Park.
With no Star Parade – scratched because of the track conditions – to contend with, Healthy Addiction sped to an easy lead from between rivals, setting an even paced before pulling away from the field on the far turn of the 1 1/8-mile event for older fillies and mares.
With only Seafree up to challenging in the stretch, Healthy Addiction drifted out badly under right-handed urging through the lane but tallied in game fashion by 1 3/4 lengths. Seafree, with Victor Espinoza aboard, switched to the inside to avoid the winner near the eighth pole and soon ran out of steam. Grade I winner Dream of Summer rallied late to finish second under Alex Solis by one-half length over Seafree.
"My mare came running," said Solis, "but the winner never stopped."
Healthy Addiction, the 5-year-old Boston Harbor mare who disappointed when splitting the Santa Maria Handicap field (gr. I) at odds of 3-1 one month ago, got away at 8-1 this time.
"Last time, she was on the inside and didn't like that," said Sadler. "I told Jon Court to let her be up close. She doesn't like to be banged around.
"She's got a beautiful pedigree," Sadler said. "With this grade I win, I think her value as a broodmare just went up from $1 million to $2 million."
On a track where she has five wins and four second-place finishes in 10 starts, Healthy Addiction carved quarter-mile fractions of :22, :45 2/5, 1:09 3/5 and 1:35 under pressure most of the way from longshot Awesome Lady before coming home in 1:48 on wet fast going. She ran second 13 months ago in her only previous effort over an off-track.
"Actually, I was surprised to be in front," Court said. "I got the lead and was able to dictate the pace. I let her do her thing. We happened to inherit the lead today, and she took to it very comfortably. She lived up to her name."
Healthy Addiction ran last of 13 in the Emirates Airline Breeders' Cup Distaff (gr. I) at Belmont Park Oct. 29, after winning Santa Anita's Lady's Secret BC Handicap (gr. II) prior to that. She returned this year to win the Paseana in January before her fourth-place showing in the Santa Maria, which was won by Star Parade.
Owned by Pamela C. Ziebarth, Healthy Addiction notched her eighth win in 18 lifetime tries and lifted her earnings to $630,837.
The winner paid $19.40, $7.60, ad $4.60 and topped an $84.20 exacta. The millionaire, Dream of Summer, winner of last year's Apple Blossom for trainer Juan Garcia, returned $4.80 and $3.60. Seafree, who won the La Canada (gr. II) last time out for trainer Bobby Frankel, was $3.80 to show.
Proposed, the 2-1 favorite, finished fourth, making a bid entering the far turn but having little impact in the strethch. She was followed by Santa Candida, Play Ballado, Bending Strings, and Awesome Lady. In addition to Star Parade, Hollywood Story was scratched.
Healthy Addiction was one of several longshot winners on Saturday's program that engendered a Pick Six carryover of $144,319 into Sunday's card.