Blue Moon (8) catches Queen of Wilshire in the closing strides to win the Buena Vista Handicap.

Blue Moon (8) catches Queen of Wilshire in the closing strides to win the Buena Vista Handicap.

Benoit & Associates

Blue Moon Shines in Buena Vista

From Santa Anita
Blue Moon finally found racing room in the final yards and ran down Queen of Wilshire for a neck victory Monday in the $150,000 Buena Vista Handicap (gr. II) for fillies and mares at Santa Anita Park.

Ridden by Brice Blanc at 113 pounds, Blue Moon ran one mile in 1:35.54 on a good turf course and paid $10.60, $6 and $4. Ron Ellis is the trainer for owner B. Wayne Hughes.

Queen of Wilshire, David Flores riding at 116 pounds, finished second and returned $8 and $4. Old Money, the 2-1 betting favorite ridden by Chris McCarron at 118 pounds, finished third and paid $3.20. Minor Details, Elegant Ridge, Veil Of Avalon and Canzone completed the order of finish.

Astra, the 9-5 morning line favorite, was scratched, as were Walts Wharf, Brocky's Dream and Verruma.

Queen of Wilshire set the pace through fractional splits of :23.43, :47.72 and 1:11.40. The 6-1 fourth choice in the wagering, Queen of Wilshire had the lead lengths entering the stretch and she appeared headed for victory.

But Blue Moon, who had no room to run for most of the race, finally found a seam and caught Queen of Wilshire with a powerful late surge. "I never got an opportunity to get out until the hole opened up," Blanc said, "and when I smooched to her, she just exploded."

A 5-year-old French-bred by Lomitas, Blue Moon has a 4-3-0 record from 10 starts. The $90,000 first prize pushed her earnings to $277,739. Blue Moon has a 2-1-0 record from four starts in America. Her first seven races were in France where her biggest victory was in a listed event at Saint-Cloud.

Ellis said there were some anxious moments as she watched the race unfold." They boxed her in for most of the race, and I figured if she could get through, she'd be tough," he said, "and when she got shut-off in mid-stretch, I took a big gulp. This was a big, game effort for her."

(Chart, Equibase)