The 5-year-old Indian Charlie mare made short work of a short field in an off-the-turf edition of the $200,000 Buena Vista Stakes (G3T), closing from third and striding away to a 3 1/2-length victory in the mile test on a fast main track. The race was automatically downgraded from its original grade 2 status, pending review by the Graded Stakes Committee.
Wild At Heart, a Richard Mandella-trained runner campaigned by Ramona Bass, came off a fourth in the Jan. 14 La Canada Stakes (G2) and one start prior was second to Vale Dori in the Bayakoa Handicap (G2) at Del Mar. Her prior wins were both earned sprinting in lesser company—an allowance/optional claimer score going six furlongs at Los Alamitos Race Course last September, and her maiden victory earned over seven furlongs at Santa Anita in 2015. This was her first graded score.
“We were anxious to see what she could do on the turf, but I’ll take what happened here today," Mandella said. "She impressed me today. She’s always tries to be a good mare but just wasn’t quite breaking through.
“This seems to be a good distance for her. She’s quick enough to sprint if you try that and she’s able to go little further as well. We just really needed to win a stake so I feel good about this."
After a slow start, jockey Flavien Prat allowed Wild At Heart to carry him up from third to challenge pacesetter Lily Pod after a quick quarter in :22.97 and a half in :45.89. When Prat set the bay mare down for the drive at the head of the lane, Wild At Heart responded with a mid-stretch surge and galloped under the wire in a final time of 1:36.48.
“She didn’t break very well but I got a good trip," Prat said. "The pace was fast but that’s the way it set up today. She won pretty easy though, she was much better today than last time out."
Wild At Heart was bred in Kentucky by Martin Cherry out of the Honor Grades mare Lady Cerise, and sold to agent Steven Young for $450,000 when consigned by Eisaman Equine to the 2014 Ocala Breeders' Sales Co.'s selected sale of 2-year-olds in training.
The winner returned $5, $3, and $2.60 across the board, while Lily Pod paid $4 and $3. Hillhouse High completed the trifecta and was worth $3.20. She was followed home by Jeremy's Legacy and Mokat. The field of older fillies and mares scratched down to those five; the connections of Do the Dance, Evo Campo, Illuminant, Juno, Pretty Girl, and Prize Exhibit all elected not to run when the race came off the grass.