Angara's great closing kick served her well in the $750,000 Beverly D. (gr. IT) Saturday as she defeated another superb stretch runner in Megahertz on a yielding Arlington Park turf.
With Gary Stevens in the irons, the British-bred Angara found room between Megahertz and Wonder Again in mid-stretch and won a determined battle to the wire by a neck while fully extended. The victory was her first in a grade I race.
Megahertz, who has won just once in 11 starts outside of California, had trouble getting hold of the turf early but turned in a game effort for Alex Solis while closing into a tepid pace from the back of the nine-horse field. Unlucky Melhor Ainda, the slight 3-1 favorite seeking to become the first 3-year-old to win the Beverly D., lacked racing room in the stretch but rallied on the inside for John Velazquez to finish third, a head behind Megahertz. Wonder Again, who led briefly in the stretch for Edgar Prado, was a neck farther behind in fourth.
Stevens is best remembered in these parts for his unfortunate disqualification in the 2003 Arlington Million (gr. IT) when his mount Storming Home dumped him with an erratic move as they reached the wire with an apparent victory. Stevens was badly injured in the fall.
"I don't mind flashing back," he said. "I've wondered for two years whether I could win again here and get back to the winner's circle without having my number taken down and without ending up in a hospital.
"This filly is just unbelievable. My hat's off to (runner-up) Megahertz. My filly has the same running style. I heard Megahertz coming at the quarter pole and I kind of eased out and tried to be patient. That carried us out of trouble and she went on about her business. It was all her. I didn't have to hit her. There's a little cut in the ground here and that's what she enjoys."
The final time was 1:58 1/5 for the 1 3/16-mile event for fillies and mares.
The victory gave trainer Patrick Biancone triumphs in both of the first two legs of Saturday's "NTRA National Pick Four." His Pomeroy romped in the Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap (gr. II) at Saratoga earlier.
The Argentine-bred Miss Terrible set the pace from the rail – :24 1/5, :49 1/5 and 1:15 2/5 – while coming under pressure from Halo Ola. Mona Lisa and Wend tracked right behind. As the front-runners hit the stretch the field bunched up, causing problems for Melhor Ainda. Angara settled near the rear of the pack while three wide before beginning her rally in the middle of the course.
A 4-year-old filly by Alzao-Ange Bleu (Alleged), Angara came around the outside and avoided trouble but needed room to challenge on the inside of Megahertz.
Angara was a strong-closing third in her last start, the Diana (gr. IT) at Saratoga, when 2 1/4 lengths behind Sand Springs. Saturday's win, worth $450,000 to owner Martin S. Schwartz, was her first since the 1 1/2-mile Bewitched (gr. IIIT) at Keeneland April 27. Angara, who began her career in France for trainer Elie Lellouche, won for the fifth time in 12 lifetime starts and increased her bankroll to $686,845.
Overlooked at odds of 6-1, Angara paid $14.80, $6.00, and $4.20.
Megahertz, who was seeking her fourth straight graded stakes win, returned $4.60 and $3.20, completing a $106.80 exacta.
"She's such a great filly to run the kind of race she did," Solis said of the runner-up. "The whole backstretch she was switching leads. The soft turf is not her going, but today she proved that she's a champion and she ran a valiant race."
Melhor Ainda, who began her career with four consecutive wins before running second in the American Oaks (gr. It) at Hollywood Park last month, was $2.80 to show.
"Until the quarter pole I had a good trip but then I didn't have anywhere to go," Velazquez said.
After Wonder Again came Sundrop, Wend, Mona Lisa, Halo Ola, and Miss Terrible. Tarfah scratched.