Mended gallops away to win the Claiming Crown Glass Slipper by 6 3/4 lengths Dec. 2 at Gulfstream Park

Mended gallops away to win the Claiming Crown Glass Slipper by 6 3/4 lengths Dec. 2 at Gulfstream Park

Coglianese Photos/Leslie Martin

Streaking Mended Steps Up for La Canada Run

Broken Vow mare enters her first graded stakes try on a 10-race win streak.

Trainer John Martin still isn't quite sure what he has with Troy and Maritza Onorato's Mended, but that's nothing new.

When he put the $12,500 claim in for the daughter of Broken Vow  at Golden Gate Fields in January of 2017, his expectations weren't all that high. He didn't mind taking in the 4-year-old filly by any means, but he was realistic. He certainly didn't have designs on a 10-race win streak and a trip to Santa Anita Park Jan. 13 for the $200,000 La Canada Stakes (G2).

"We saw the horse showing a lot of speed and barely quitting at the end," Martin said of Mended, who he claimed on owner Troy Onorato's recommendation. "I knew the horse, but as far as I was concerned, I didn't know what to expect, except a $12,500 claimer out of it. I thought the horse was OK, and we went for it."

Martin, the Northern California horseman who ranked 25th in North America by victories last season (124 wins from 415 starts), was immediately and pleasantly surprised.

The speedy bay won her first four starts for Martin back at the claiming level on the Golden Gate synthetic main track. The winning margins were 2 1/4, five, 8 1/4, and 3 3/4, and she led at every point of call. She then took a step up in class to an optional-claiming allowance at Golden Gate, set the pace, and won again, this time by 4 3/4 lengths.

So why not try the turf in a starter allowance? And right back into the Golden Gate winner's circle she went, after a 1 1/4-length score in June.

Then came the first true leap for Martin. He doesn't shy away from shipping south and running at Del Mar, but an optional claimer on the dirt at the tough summer meet was certainly a step up for Mended, and she didn't get her normal clear lead. Drawn outside in a field of six, she raced off an early leader, pressed the pace in the backstretch, and put away the field to win by 3 1/4 lengths. Second-place finisher Avicii, a proven winner on the Southern California circuit, finished another 3 3/4 lengths clear of the rest.

Back home in Northern California, Mended won another two allowance races, then Martin took another leap. He'd shipped to Canterbury Park for the Claiming Crown before, but had never shipped a horse to Gulfstream Park since he began training in 1984. There was the increased expense of shipping east for the Claiming Crown Glass Slipper Stakes, but also an increased purse ($110,000), more than she'd ever raced for before.

So what did the filly who handles seemingly everything do? First start outside of California, first trip on a plane, first stakes, no problem. Mended set the pace again and romped by 6 3/4 lengths.

"I never knew what was coming when I got her," Martin said. "But every time I run her, she gets better."

If she continues to improve in the La Canada, Mended might just fit against a quality group of older fillies and mares. A victory in the La Canada would also bring the first graded win for Martin, who has gone past the 100-win mark in each of the past three seasons. No horse won more than Mended in 2017 (Cantchaco also won 10 races, but from 16 starts in Arizona, Washington, Oregon, Montana, and Alberta), and while Martin likes the idea of a 10-race win streak, it's time to take a shot against the top barns in California.

"Part of my reputation up here is trying to find the right spots that horses are eligible for, without making it too difficult on them," Martin said. "When you're in the claiming game, you've got to spot your horses well until you're out of conditions. I like the streak, but at some point you've got to do what's right."

The race favorite figures to be Majestic Heat, a Madeline Auerbach homebred who is owned in partnership with Bardy Farm and Ron McCauley. The Richard Mandella-trained mare found another gear late in her 5-year-old year, with back-to-back wins in the Nov. 12 Betty Grable Stakes and the Bayakoa Stakes (G2) on dirt. Prior to those two starts, the Unusual Heat mare had five wins, including two in California-bred stakes, but she raced exclusively on grass.

SHEA: Majestic Heat Rolls in Bayakoa

Also in the field is 2016 Del Mar Debutante (G1) winner Union Strike, who will make her first start since a fifth-place run in the Acorn Stakes (G1) June 10 at Belmont Park. The 4-year-old Union Rags  filly owned by Ruis Racing started her 2017 campaign with a victory in the April 9 Santa Paula Stakes at Santa Anita and came in a head back for second in the May 5 Eight Belles Stakes Presented by Kentucky Trailer (G2) at Churchill Downs.

Multiple grade 1-placed Mopotism, stakes winners Sandy's Surprise and Shenandoah Queen, multiple allowance winner Resky Business, and maiden winner La Force complete the field.

Entries: La Canada S. (G2)

Santa Anita Park, Saturday, January 13, 2018, Race 8

  • Grade II
  • 1m
  • Dirt
  • $200,000
  • 4 yo's & up Fillies and Mares
  • 4:10 PM (local)
11La Force (GER)Drayden Van Dyke120Patrick Gallagher12/1
22Majestic Heat (CA)Mike E. Smith124Richard E. Mandella9/5
33Mended (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateRicardo Gonzalez120John F. Martin4/1
44Mopotism (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateMario Gutierrez120Doug F. O'Neill7/2
55Union Strike (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateCorey S. Nakatani120Mick Ruis5/1
66Resky Business (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateEvin A. Roman120William E. Morey12/1
77Shenandoah Queen (KY)Flavien Prat120John W. Sadler10/1
88Sandy's Surprise (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateRafael Bejarano120Doug F. O'Neill8/1