Terry Lovingier's Lost Bus provided a 64-1 stunner in the $200,000 Santa Monica Stakes (gr. II) Jan. 23 at Santa Anita Park.
The 4-year-old Bring the Heat filly, who last won in March last year in a California-bred restricted allowance/optional claiming race, dueled with Finest City to set fractions of :22.42 and :44.93 through a half-mile and outlasted her frontrunning rival to the wire.
With jockey Fernando Perez aboard, Lost Bus ran the seven furlongs in 1:21.78 and finished a head in front. Tara's Tango engaged in the early pace competition during the first quarter-mile before she dropped back to fifth after a half-mile, then re-rallied to finish a neck back in third.
Lost Bus paid $131.20, $42.20, and $14.80 across the board and gave trainer Gary Sherlock his first graded victory since 2008, when Intangaroo won three grade I events, including the Santa Monica.
"I was running for third and it turned out better than that," Sherlock said. "There wasn't a lot of speed in the race and I told Fernando to go to the front."
Living The Life moved three wide in the turn to challenge, but faded to fourth, followed by Kiss At Midnight, Room for Me, Prize Exhibit, Kyriaki, and Ben's Duchess, to complete the order of finish.
Sherlock claimed the filly for $32,000 off trainer Blake Heap out of a mile turf race at Del Mar in November—where she finished fourth—then ran her back in a six-furlong optional/claiming race at Los Alamitos Race Course (second by 3 1/4 lengths) and in the Kalookan Queen Stakes at Santa Anita Dec. 30, when she came in third behind Sunday Rules and Kiss At Midnight.
"She ran well last time, but even I didn't know she was going to run this well in here," Perez said. "I got a clean break, I took her to the lead, and she was comfortable the whole time—and at the end, she was still trying."
Bred by John Haagsma and Wesley Ward out of the Stravinsky mare Frysland, Lost Bus now has $256,018 in earnings with a career mark of 3-2-2 from 11 starts.