In two starts since moving out west, LNJ Foxwoods' Constellation has done no wrong.
A two-time stakes winner in New York for trainer Steve Asmussen, the Bellamy Road filly won her first start for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer Nov. 12 in the City of Phoenix Stakes at Turf Paradise then took a significant step up Dec. 26 to gamely win the La Brea Stakes (gr. I) at Santa Anita Park.
In a stalking position behind 9-5 co-favorite Finley'sluckycharm through most of the seven-furlong test, Constellation still couldn't get by her front-running rival at the sixteenth pole, but dug in on the outside to just get past late and win by a half-length under jockey Flavien Prat at odds of 12-1.
"She is a really fine filly," Prat said of Constellation, who was between horses in the backstretch. "She broke well, but I couldn't take hold of her. She just wouldn't relax. When we got to the three-eighths pole, she finally relaxed and she did everything to get there for the win."
Finley'sluckycharm, who came into the La Brea on a three-race win streak—all at Churchill Downs—set fractions of :22.24, :44.58, and 1:09.05 through six furlongs and looked strong in the stretch until the final strides.
"I thought she ran great," said Finley'sluckycharm's trainer, Bret Calhoun. "I thought she had a great trip. We knew the pace was going to be pretty hot and she handled it pretty well. She handled the seven-eighths well and that was maybe a question mark."
Constellation finished off the seven furlongs in 1:21.83 and paid $27 to win.
"That race kind of unfolded the way we thought it would," Hollendorfer said. "I think Flavien was a little lucky to get through between horses, and that was the key to winning the race."
Prat picked up the mount after scheduled jockey David Flores' flight to Southern California was delayed.
"We wanted to ride David Flores back because he made a trip out to Turf Paradise to ride this filly," Hollendorfer said. "He couldn't get a plane out here—it got delayed—so Prat was open and he was the logical guy to go to, since he's been leading rider at several meets."
"We were going OK, but usually she just relaxes and makes a big run and she didn't," said Lightstream's jockey, Julien Leparoux. "She broke good and she wanted to go a bit early, but she didn't really relax for the big run."
It was the first graded win for Constellation, who finished second and third, respectively, in the 2015 Matron (gr. II) and Spinaway (gr. I). Bred in Kentucky by WinStar Farm, out of the Not For Love mare For Royalty, Constellation now has a 5-1-1 record from eight starts and earnings of $479,464.