Ema Bovary's nine-race winning streak came to end when she was unable to catch a game Coconut Girl in the $106,000 Desert Stormer Handicap (gr. III) at Hollywood Park Saturday.
A first-time stakes winner, Coconut Girl, ridden by Victor Espinoza, cleared off to a two-length advantage in the stretch and held off Ema Bovary and Roberto Gonzalez by 1 1/4 lengths. The time was 1:08 4/5 for the six furlongs.
The Chilean-bred Ema Bovary had the longest winning streak in the country. She hadn't been beaten since Feb. 16, 2003, her first start in the United States after transferring from her native country.
Breaking from the inside, Ema Bovary was trapped at the rail down the backstretch while trailing pacesetting Jetinto Houston through opening fractions of :22 2/5 and :44 4/5. Coconut Girl, on the outside while stalking the leader on her outside, tackled Jetinto Houston coming out of the turn and edged away to the lead. She finished under left-handed urging.
Ema Bovary carried high weight of 123 pounds, eight more than the winner.
Espinoza said he was pleased that Coconut Girl broke on top.
"So today I kind of surprised her and kept riding her all the way rather than taking back," Espinoza said. "All the way around, of course, I knew Ema Bovary was the horse to beat. I knew she was behind me. So I knew the only chance I had was just to keep riding my mare as hard as I could to the end. Twenty yards from the wire, I knew I had her. "
Madame Bovary, who had to shuffle back off of heels leaving the backstretch, got off the rail in the stretch and rallied willingly. She finished 5 1/2 lengths in front of third-place Stormica.
"It had to stop somewhere, her trainer Larry Ross said. "I hope Smarty does better, that's for sure. I thought she'd win for fun to be quite honest with you. It was fun though. It's not like it's all over. She'll start another one. She's been tearing down the barn area the last few days."
"She was much too quiet in the post parade," Gonzalez said. "That just wasn't her. I was concerned. Then she started out on her wrong lead. But I was in a perfect spot as we turned for home. I started pushing on her, and she wasn't responding. On the middle of the turn, I knew I was in deep trouble. She pulled up okay and everything. But she just wasn't picking it up."
"We beat that winning mare so easy before. I guess she was just due a bad day."
Trained by Paul Aguirre for owner JPF Investments I, Coconut Girl, a 5-year-old mare by Cryptoclearance out of the Lost Code mare Sarabi, won for the fifth time in 16 starts. She earned $63,600, pushing her lifetime total to $254,606.
"I never thought we had a chance to beat her (Ema Bovary)," said Aguirre, who picked up his first win of the Hollywood Park meet. "She's a very nice filly. I guess we got a little lucky today, but our barn has been due for a little luck lately. This filly has always had a lot of talent, but she's been her own worst enemy.
"With Victor riding her, she started to get good trips and started to get some confidence, and he's really a big reason for her turnaround and he gave her a great trip today."
The second choice in the five-horse field, she paid $13, $3.20 and $2.10. Ema Bovary, whose nine-race streak included eight stakes victories, returned $2.20 and $2.10. Stormica, ridden by Mike Smith, was $2.10 to show.