Tara's Tango and Martin Garcia take the Santa Maria Stakes.

Tara's Tango and Martin Garcia take the Santa Maria Stakes.

Benoit Photo

Tara's Tango Gets Up in Santa Maria

Stonestreet homebred was came close in two graded stakes in the last year.

A tough-luck finisher in two graded stakes runs in the past year, Stonestreet Stable's homebred Tara's Tango broke through Feb. 13 in the $200,000 Santa Maria Stakes (gr. II) at Santa Anita Park.

Video: Santa Maria S. (G2)

The 4-year-old Unbridled's Song filly broke slowly but was able to get into position to stalk the early pace, moved three wide between horses in the final turn of the 1 1/16-mile contest moved past frontrunners Yahilwa and Living The Life to win by a half-length.

Off at 9-5 in the eight-horse field, Tara's Tango hit the wire in 1:44.48 under jockey Martin Garcia after tracking the dueling leaders behind fractions of :23.54, :46.97, and 1:11.45 through six furlongs.

"Today, she was good," Garcia said. "I think this is the distance that she wants to run. I think she wants two turns. She doesn't have a lot of early speed. I think she prefers to go at her own pace and this distance lets her run at her own pace."

Grade I winner Birdatthewire even got into the pace competition in the backstretch, when she moved up to challenge the leaders three wide, but she lacked late kick and finished fifth.

"She just ran off," said Birdatthewire's jockey, Mike Smith. "She wouldn't load today. She was really leaning against the back of the gate, so that he kicked it, she got off slow. She got up and there was only one thing on her mind, and that was 'get to the front.'"

Tara's Tango nearly earned her first stakes win last time out, when she was a neck back in third in the Santa Monica (gr. II), but she also was just a nose second to eventual champion Stellar Wind in the Summertime Oaks (gr. II) at Santa Anita in June.

"We thought she could route because she did run against the Eclipse Award winner," winning trainer Jerry Hollendorfer said. "I was a little distressed when she came away from the gate slower than we wanted her to, but Martin got her into a good position right away."

Bred in Kentucky, out of the French Deputy mare Scarlet Tango, Tara's Tango now has a 3-3-1 record from nine starts with earnings of $318,004.