Southern California shipper Dream of Summer pulled away at the eighth pole to dominate her seven opponents in the $150,000 Gardenia Handicap (gr. III) for fillies and mares at rainy Ellis Park Saturday.
Sent off as the 9-5 favorite, jockey Corey Nakatani angled the California-bred 6-year-old Siberian Summer mare five wide coming off the far turn, and she responded to catch the pacesetter Tempus Fugit with about a furlong to go. She drew off to win by 4 1/2 lengths while completing the one-mile event in 1:35 1/5 on a track rated wet fast after an afternoon thundershower.
Halory Leigh, ridden by Craig Perret, got up by a half-length for second with Tempus Fugit and Jesus Castanon holding on for third. Tempus Fugit set solid fractions of :22 2/5, :46 1/5 and 1:10.
The Juan Garcia-trained Dream of Summer, who won the Apple Blossom (gr. I) at Oaklawn April 9 over the champion filly Ashado, carried high weight of 122 pounds, spotting the runner-up three pounds. She was well positioned early while racing third or fourth on the outside of the pacesetter under light restraint.
Nakatani said he believes that Dream of Summer is one of the top fillies and mares in the country, and he rode her with confidence.
"That's the way you're supposed to ride those kind of horses," said Nakatani. "You think they're the best, and you know what the filly is capable of doing; you want to sit there, and you don't want to make any mistakes."
The victory, her ninth in 15 lifetime starts, was worth $90,000 to owner and breeder James Weigel and increased her earnings to $943,650. Mary's Dream, a daughter of Skywalker, produced Dream of Summer, who was making her first start since a fourth-place finish in the B Thoughtful for Cal-breds at Hollywood Park April 24.
She paid $5.60, $3.20, and $2.40. Halory Leigh returned $3.20 and $2.80. Temus Fugit was $4 to show.
Miss Fortunate, Josh's Madelyn, Kristy Beethoven, Southern Surprise, and Slewpy's Storm followed them home. Quick Temper scratched.
The Gardenia was the centerpiece of "Big Four Saturday," the richest day of stakes competition in Ellis Park history and included four stakes races with total purses of $400,000.
Andrena Van Doren's heavily favored Shaconage snapped a 10-race losing streak as she romped to an easy 4 ¼-length win in the $100,000 Ellis Park Breeders' Cup Turf for fillies and mares ages three and up. Trained by Mitch Shirota and ridden by Brice Blanc, Shaconage covered the one-mile distance on yielding turf in 1:45.12 and paid $3.20, $2.40 and $2.10. Sheer Luck finished second, and Victoire Bataille was third.
Thomas W. Frank's Red Raymond rallied along the rail under John McKee to score a 1 ¼-length victory in the $75,000 James C. Ellis Juvenile for two-year-olds. The son of Deputy Commander, trained by Robert Holthus, won for the second time in three career starts and paid $7, $4 and $2.10. He covered seven furlongs in 1:23.59 while defeating longshot Catcominatcha and heavily regarded and previously unbeaten Deputy G, who set a fast pace and faded to third.
She Says It Best started the day with a front-running upset in the $75,000 Anna M. Fisher Debutante for two-year-old fillies at seven furlongs. The daughter of Stormy Atlantic won by seven lengths under jockey Eddie Martin, Jr. and paid $11.20, $5 and $2.10. Owned by Carl Bowling, Vickie Foley, and others and trained by Foley, She Says It Best completed the distance in 1:23.97. Claremont was second, and heavily favored Swept Gold rallied late to finish third.