The long trip for Maryland-based filly He Loves Me paid off her connections with a late-surging victory in Friday night's $125,000 Iowa Oaks (gr. III) at Prairie Meadows. "It's a long ways to come,'' said winning trainer Richard Small of the trip to Altoona, Iowa.. "We didn't come in a plane. We came in a truck.''
He Loves Me overtook unfortunate Prospective Saint in the final furlong to win the 1 1/16-mile Oaks by three-quarters of a length in 1:42 4/5.
"She pretty much did it by herself. I was just the passenger,'' said winning jockey Jozbin Santana.
Santana looked like he was along for a second-place ride until Prospective Saint nearly stopped running in the stretch when apparently confused by the lights. That gave He Loves Me and Santana an opportunity. They made a quick move from mid-pack in the eight-horse field to grab the lead.Prospective Saint was a winner in trainer Patrick Byrne's mind until she saw the track lights.
"It happens. It was the first time she had ever run under the lights,'' Byrne said. "She was alone coming off the turn. She just saw the lights and lost complete momentum.''
Jockey Shane Sellers was visibly frustrated by Prospective Saint's refusal to keep running.
"I wish I was in her head to tell you what it was,'' Sellers said. "She obviously saw something. She was focused until that point."
The win was worth $75,000 to Buckingham Farm, He Loves Me's owner. It raised the career earnings of the daughter of Not For Love–Palliser Bay to $237,250.
The second choice at 3-to-1 odds, He Loves Me paid $8.20, $4.80 and $3.60. Prospective Saint returned $7.40 and $4.80. Home Court paid $3.60 to show.(Chart, Equibase)