Elusive Diva Enjoys Railbird View Better

A distant fourth in last month's Fantasy Stakes (gr. II), Elusive Diva found the field and a cutback in distance a little more to her liking Sunday, winning a tight four-horse decision in the $109,600 Railbird (gr. III) at seven furlongs for 3-year-old fillies at Hollywood Park.

Elusive Diva, donning blinkers for the first time in her five-race career, got a rail-skimming ride from Patrick Valenzuela, who angled her out slightly for the stretch run. The daughter of Elusive Quality, the sire of Kentucky Derby (gr. I) winner Smarty Jones, got to the wire a neck in front of maiden M.A. Fox, who finished well while racing out in the middle of the track but just missed.

Speedy Falcon, who had the lead in deep stretch, hung a bit in the final sixteenth to be a third, a neck behind M.A. Fox. Speedy Falcon edged out 6-5 favorite Aspen Gal by a nose. The winning time was 1:21 1/5.

Following a pair of wins at Santa Anita, trainer Mark Glatt shipped the bay filly to Oaklawn Park for the 1 1/16-mile Fantasy April 9, where she was beaten by eight lengths by House of Fortune at odds of nearly 30-1.

Elusive Diva won for the third time while increasing her career earnings to $136,180 for owners Branch and Allen Konecny, et al. John William and Doris Konecny bred her in Kentucky. She's from the dam Taj Aire, by Taj Alriyadh.

Elusive Diva stalked in fourth position along the inside as Allswellthatnswell, breaking from the rail and pressed immediately on her outside by Speedy Falcon, dueled early through rapid fractions of :21 3/5 and :44.

Speedy Falcon edged to the front in mid-stretch as Aspen Gal and M.A. Fox challenged her on the outside. Elusive Diva, waiting for room in the stretch, angled out a bit to get around the fading frontrunner and was all out under strong urging from Valenzuela along the inside in the final furlong. She reached the front in the final sixteenth and held on desperately.

The fourth choice in a field of eight, Elusive Diva paid $11.80, $5.40 and $3.60. M.A. Fox returned $7.60 and $3.80. Speedy Falcon's show was $4.20. The $2 exacta was worth $103.

(Chart, Equibase)