Hronis Racing's Nancy From Nairobi, a British-bred daughter of Sixties Icon trained by John Sadler, charged from mid-pack to win the $200,000 Royal Heroine Stakes (gr. IIT) for older fillies and mares May 5 on Santa Anita Park's opening day.
The 5-year-old mare got the mile in 1:37.12, topping Fauflier (IRE) by a half-length. Fanticola rallied for third and Havana Belle (IRE) finished fourth.
The winner, a minor stakes winner in England last summer, was winning for the third consecutive time on the Southern California circuit. After a second-place finish in her debut Dec. 30 at Santa Anita at a mile, she was stretched to 1 1/2 miles was sixth in the Astra Stakes Jan. 17. She then won back-to-back allowance optional claiming races Feb. 5 and March 4.
"She really loves this Santa Anita track and the West Coast," said Kostas Hronis after the race. "We'll keep her at a mile. I'm a big fan of John Sadler and the fact he's able to get these horses to feel at home on this track."
Tyler Baze, the rider of Her Emmynency, claimed foul against the winner for interference at the head of the stretch. Ike and Dawn Thrash's Her Emmynency, winner of last fall's Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup Stakes (gr. I) at Keeneland, finished fifth. There was no change in the outcome.
Nancy From Nairobi, out of the Hawk Wing mare Madame Hoi and bred in Great Britain by Norman Court Stud, paid $12.20, $6.40, and $4.20. Fauflier paid $5.60 and $4.20. Fanticola paid $9.20 to show.
"The turf was soft, so it basically fit her; she likes that," said winning jockey Abel Lezcano. 'I just had my hands down on her and I waited and waited. In the stretch I had no traffic. I was on the outside and I was in the clear, no complaints."
Reddam Racing's Smoove It set the the early pace, getting the opening quarter in :22.88. La Berma edged in front to hit the half-mile pole in :47.49. Those two took the field into the stretch until they were overtaken by a host of fillies and mares in the stretch.
"The Gamely will be next," Sadler said. "My other mare, Elektrum ran well, too; went through traffic and came flying to be fifth. So we should have two for the Gamely, although we might try to separate them."