Kalookan Queen Edges Males in Potrero Grande

Kalookan Queen tracked a brisk pace, moved to the lead on the turn, then held off the late run of Ceeband to earn a half-length victory over males in the $197,000 Potrero Grande Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. II) at Santa Anita. The daughter of Lost Code became the second product of Regal Realm to win the Potrero Grande, following in the footsteps of her full brother Sir Hutch.

Sir Hutch won the 1994 renewal -- then a grade III event -- under Patrick Valenzuela for owners Bob and Beverly Lewis and trainer Bob Baffert in what was his only stakes win.

Kalookan Queen's win marks the first time a filly or mare has won the race in 21 renewals. She gives trainer Bruce Headley, who has dominated the event in recent years, his fifth winner in the race. Saturday's Potrero Grande win is the third in a row for Headley, who saddled Kona Gold to win in the 6 1/2-furlong race in 2001 and '01, and his fourth in the last five renewals.

"We expected her to win today and she did her work," said Headley.

Kalookan Queen completed the distance in 1:15.31 on a fast track under Alex Solis. Ceeband finished second, a neck ahead of Elaborate, who challenged the winner at the top of the stretch. Reba's Gold, Rapidough, Pie N Burger, Romanzo, and Alyzig completed the order of finish.

"They gave her a real test today, and she answered back," Solis said. "She was really game today. When she got to the five-sixteenths pole, she started waiting a bit, and I said, 'Mama, don't do that,' but the last part I really got down on her, and she responded nicely."

Sent off as the 7-10 favorite while coupled with stablemate Rapidough, Kalookan Queen returned $3.40, $2.40, and $2.40. Ceeband paid $3.80 and $3.40, with Elaborate worth $4.60 to show. The $1 exacta paid $7.60.

Louis A. Asistio's Kalookan Queen has won two of three races this year, while finishing second in the Las Flores Handicap (gr. III) in her lone loss. The winner of January's grade I Santa Monica Handicap has finished among the top three in 19 of her 20 career races, winning nine of them, including five stakes races.

Six-year-old Kalookan Queen was purchased for $275,000 as a 2-year-old and was bred in Kentucky by Donald and Mary Zuckerman. (Chart, Equibase)