With the Breeders' Cup World Championships just around the corner, Photo Call has picked a good time to put together her two best races.
The 4-year-old daughter of Galileo and jockey Drayden Van Dyke split rivals midstretch and powered away from her nine rivals to register a clear victory in the $300,000 Rodeo Drive Stakes (gr. IT) Saturday, Sept. 26 at Santa Anita Park.
Video: Rodeo Drive S. (G1T)
Mrs. P. K. Cooper’s Photo Call secured the first grade I victory of her career when she completed the 1 1/4-mile test in 2:00.76 on firm turf. In her previous race, she earned her first graded win in the Violet Stakes (gr. IIIT) Aug. 29 at Monmouth Park for trainer Graham Motion.
The Rodeo Drive is a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In,” race to the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf (gr. IT).
"She's been a class act. She loves the track, she loves the heat, and it's beautiful here," said Anne Sinchak, assistant to winning trainer Graham Motion. "You just have to keep them happy, and they'll run the way they like to.
"I think the race just fit. She's been training well, and Graham seems to like it here; we do well here. It fit well in her schedule, and it's a 'Win and You're In' race."
In Saturday's test, Royal Heroine Stakes (gr. IIT) winner Fanticola led the field of 10 fillies and mares through a half-mile in :47.57 and six furlongs in 1:12.89 while pursued by longshot Stormy Lucy and Sharla Rae. Photo Call raced fourth throughout, improved position into the stretch, then squeezed between Fanticola and Stormy Lucy on her way to the 2 1/4-length victory.
Van Dyke was impressed with Photo Call's willingness to punch through the gap.
"The stretch was a bit hairy. I went down to the inside hoping Joe (Talamo on Fanticola) would float off of the rail a little bit but he never did. I had to cut back and luckily she was brave enough to go through," Van Dyke said. "Not a lot of fillies are brave enough to go through a hole like that but she just rocketed through there and I was lucky to get the good trip."
Photo Call returned $19.40, $10.80, and $7.60 across the board. Sixth at the quarter pole, Elektrum rallied to finish second and paid $9.20 to place and $6.20 to show. Longshot Stormy Lucy held third, paying $12.40 to show.
Hard Not to Like, who had won two straight grade I races but was stretching out to 1 1/4 miles for the first time, failed to fire and finished eighth as the 8-5 favorite. Jockey Victor Espinoza said the daughter of Hard Spun used too much energy early, possibly confused when the field crossed the main track at Santa Anita to the main turf course.
"She was too much in the bridle. Right out of the gate I tried to save ground and go to the inside and she was doing good but as soon as she crossed the dirt she grabbed the bridle and I couldn't relax her," Espinoza said. "She got strong and finally on the backside I gave into her a little bit to help her out and hopefully help relax her but when I gave her the go-ahead she didn't want to run."
Bred in Ireland by Evie Stockwell, Photo Call is out of group III winner Theann, by Rock of Gibraltar. Photo Call has a 4-2-4 record from 13 career starts with more than half of her $339,562 in earnings coming in Saturday's win.