Left alone on the lead, Brooke's Halo dug in while battling through the lane to hold off Memorette and Cee's Irish, winning the $177,500 Hollywood Breeders' Cup Oaks (gr. II) in a surprise.
Victor Espinoza guided the Florida-bred daughter of Southern Halo-Salty Lady (Salt Lake) to a one-length win over Memorette, who got a late start for Alex Solis but was able to edge Cee's Irish and Patrick Valenzuela by a half-length for the place spot.
Leave Me Alone, the 3-2 favorite over 2-1 second choice Memorette in the eight-horse field, faded to fourth with Tyler Baze after chasing fast early fractions. The final time was 1:42 4/5 for the 1 1/16-mile test for 3-year-old fillies.
Brooke's Halo looked like she could have been headed for a turf career after she finished second by a nose in her grass debut in the 5 1/2-furlong Manhattan Beach in her last start May 29 at Hollywood. But trainer Jeff Mullins brought her back to the main track and stretched her to two turns. Prior to Sunday, she had never been beyond seven furlongs – when eased in the Beaumont (gr. II) at Keeneland April 14.
"This is an unbelievable filly," Espinoza said. "She can go either way. Dirt, grass, long, short, it doesn't matter. She's all class, this filly. She runs hard. Even the fractions were pretty quick today, but she still finished strong."
Michael House owns the winner, who has won three of six in her career. She earned $111,900 for her first stakes victory and has now banked $179,900.
"We saw the horse down in Florida – Jeff Mullins did – and we liked her," House said. "We checked her out and we purchased her. Then in her two stakes races, in both places it rained all day the day before, here in the Sunshine Millions and in Kentucky in (the Beaumont). She needs her track and today she got it."
Harold J. Plumley bred the chestnut, who was sold for $40,000 at Ocala in February 2004.
Her only previous win for Mullins came in an $80,000 optional allowance race at 6 1/2 furlongs at Santa Anita March 9, the race prior to her disastrous effort in Kentucky.
A filly that possesses good speed, Brooke's Halo was fastest away from the gate as Leave Me Alone took up the chase from her inside starting post. They completed the opening quarter mile in :22 3/5 as Brooke's Halo opened up a two-length advantage. They traveled the half-mile in :45 3/5 and six furlongs in 1:10. On the turn for home, Cee's Irish ranged up on the outside as Brooke's Halo came under pressure from Espinoza. Brooke's Halo responded and Cee's Irish was never able to threaten. Memorette came on steadily through the stretch after a slow start.
"They went so fast, but they never really came back to me," Solis said of the runner-up. "She gave her best. Too bad the track was favoring speed today."
Brooke's Halo paid $17.80, $6.80 and $4.80. Memorette, who ran fifth in the Kentucky Oaks in her last start May 6, returned $4.40 and $3 while completing an $80.60 exacta. Cee's Irish was $3.20 to show.
After Leave Me Alone came Gn. Group Meeting, Lady Bertrando and Silver Dawn. Charismatic Heart was pulled up when lame leaving the backstretch and was vanned off.