Merv Griffin's versatile Cee's Irish, ridden by Corey Nakatani, pulled away from her rivals at the head of the stretch in winning the $259,000 WinStar Sunland Oaks Saturday in virtually gate-to-wire fashion.
Under pressure from local hope Dayglogreen and 4-5 favorite Pegasus Rose as the field straightened for home, Nakatani gave his filly a couple of cracks with the whip and the California-bred daughter of Cee's Tizzy
responded by pulling off to a lead of a couple of lengths.
Obviously tiring through the stretch run, Nakatani kept her driving for a 2 1/4-length win over Dayglogreen in time of 1:44 3/5 for the 1 1/16-mile event. It was 3 1/2 lengths back to Island Escape as she closed mildly for third in the field of eight.
Pegasus Rose finished fifth.
Trained by leading Southern California conditioner Doug O'Neill, Cee's Irish improved her record to 4-3-0 in nine career starts. She earned $155,400 to increase her bankroll to $335,400.
Cee's Irish led through splits of :22 4/5 and :46 4/5 before being headed by Dayglogreen on her outside after six furlongs in 1:11 3/5. She regained the lead coming off the final turn. Pegasus Rose, who moved into contention while widest of all, soon fell back.
The 17-10 second choice, Cee's Irish was coming off a second-place finish in Santa Anita's one-mile China Doll in her last start March 12 on the turf. Her last victory also came on the grass, when she won the one-mile Blue Norther at Santa Anita Jan. 14. In between those starts, she ran fifth in the Silverbulletday (gr. III) at Fair Grounds on Louisiana Derby day Feb. 12.
She paid $5.40, $3.20 and $2.40. Dayglogreen returned $6.60 and $3.20. Island Escape's show was $3.20.