In what may have been her best performance to date, Nick Alexander's homebred Enola Gray rocketed clear of competition three-sixteenths of a mile from home as she went on to win the $100,000 Irish O'Brien Stakes at Santa Anita Park March 18 by a comfortable four lengths under Tyler Baze.
Trained by Phil D'Amato, she got the 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:11.91 while in-hand.
Breaking from the inside of a seven-horse field of California-bred or sired older fillies and mares, she was at once on terms with speedy longshot Emmy and I and well within herself heading to the half-mile pole.
"This may have been her best race," Alexander said. "There was a lot more speed in there today than in the last few races ... I think Tyler knows that what he does best is to just barely put any pressure on the reins. He's pretty much loose reining her now. She can go so fast early and not get tired ... She has such a light touch on the ground. It's not taking a lot out of her. I'm not an expert but, she's the damnedest horse I've ever had."
Fresh off a win over the course in the Sunshine Millions Filly & Mare Turf Sprint Stakes Jan. 28, Enola Gray, a 4-year-old gray daughter of Grazen, out of the More Than Ready mare Unsung Heroine, was off at 2-5 and paid $2.80, $2.20, and $2.10 across the board.
"This filly, she loves the hill," said Baze, who has been aboard for all six of her career wins. "She loves the grass. She was just out there having fun. It takes a few strides to get going but once she does, it's like riding on a cloud. This filly is unbelievable. I can't wait until next time."
In taking the Irish O'Brien, Enola Gray is now unbeaten in three hillside starts. Additionally, she notched her fifth stakes win, improving her overall record to 6-2-1 from nine starts and with the winner's share of $60,000, she increased her earnings to $509,100.
With Flavien Prat aboard, Desert Steel accounted for second, finishing 1 3/4 lengths in front of Lily Kai. Off at 6-1, Desert Steel paid $4.60 and $3.20. Last early with Stewart Elliott up, Lily Kai, off at 22-1, paid $5 to show.