Benoit Photo

Taris Passes Two-Turn La Canada Test

Flatter mare stalked the pace and pulled away late

If the $200,000 La Canada Stakes (gr. II) Jan. 16 was a test for Taris, it sure looked like she passed.

The 5-year-old Flatter  mare owned by Michael Tabor, Derrick Smith, and John Magnier has been a proven sprinter since moving to the barn of Simon Callaghan late in 2014, but shined in her two-turn debut for the trainer in the 1 1/16-mile La Canada at Santa Anita Park.

Video: La Canada S. (G2)

Under a confident ride from Gary Stevens, Taris stalked three lengths behind early leaders Illuminant and Yahilwa, moved alongside three wide in the final turn, and broke away in the stretch to win by 5 1/4 lengths, ahead of grade I winner Birdatthewire. Yahilwa outfinished Illuminant for third and Oscar Party was pulled up after jockey Santiago Gonzalez had his rein break in the first turn.

"It was nice of her to do it," Callaghan said of his pupil's ability to settle racing behind horses, which has been an issue for her in the past. "I was a little anxious down the backside, when she just took hold of the bridle a little bit, (but) she's such a smart filly. She just dropped it and relaxed."

Illuminant jumped out to the lead immediately under jockey Flavien Prat and ran fractions of :23.93 and :47.35 through a half-mile. Yahilwa took over the lead to cover six furlongs in 1:11.71, as Taris loomed a length back, and the eventual winner took over to run a mile in 1:37.51 and hit the wire in 1:44.38.

"It was a perfect trip," Stevens said. "It set up (and) the fractions were realistic... Simon has done such a good job of settling her down. The question was if she could go long and she proved it today."
 
Callaghan said earlier in the week that if Taris took to two turns, she could head to 1 1/8-mile Santa Margarita (gr. I) at Santa Anita March 19. Her last try at two turns was a sixth-place finish in the 1 1/16-mile Honeybee (gr. III) at Oaklawn Park in 2014, when she was trained by Todd Beattie.

"(Beattie) told me she would stretch out," Callaghan said. "She's kind of an adaptable mare and, like I said, she's just a good, classy filly."

Off as the even-money favorite the winner paid $4, $2.60, and $2.10 across the board. Birdatthewire brought $3.40 and $2.20, and Yahilwa delivered $2.10 to show.

Bred in Kentucky by Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider, out of the Theatrical mare Comedy, Taris has a 7-1-2 record from 11 starts, with $807,700 in earnings.