The two runaway leaders kept on running the second time through the stretch in the $200,000 Santa Ana Stakes (G2T), but maybe the smallest horse on the grounds at Santa Anita Park was just beginning to wind up.
As the rest of the potential closers toiled behind leaders Sassy Little Lila and Midnight Crossing in the final three-sixteenths of the Santa Ana, Slam Dunk Racing's Madam Dancealot uncoiled her trademark late kick.
Caught in between horses in the final turn of the 1 1/8-mile test and at the top of the lane, jockey Corey Nakatani eventually got the 4-year-old Sir Prancealot filly out, and she surged by the two front-runners in the final sixteenth to earn her second grade 2 score with a half-length victory.
Trainer Richard Baltas ran first and second, as Midnight Crossing edged Sassy Little Lila by a half-length after a duel from the five-sixteenths pole to the wire.
"Both fillies ran great for different owners," said Baltas, who also had Lucy De finish fourth in the race. "I'm very grateful both fillies fired. ... It looked like (jockey) Brice (Blanc, aboard Midnight Crossing) had plenty of horse, and he was stalking. I saw Corey coming up the rail, and I said, 'Don't get her stopped.'"
Sassy Little Lila set the pace, with Midnight Crossing not far behind, for fractions of :24.78, :49 flat, and 1:12.89 through six furlongs. The gap between the top two and the rest of the field in the backstretch was nine lengths, and Madam Dancealot was farthest off the lead, last in the seven-horse field after Laseen refused to run at the start of the race.
Nakatani and Madam Dancealot weaved through traffic and closed to finish the distance in 1:49.51 on turf rated good.
"I thought, as much rain as we've had and the turf being softer, it worked to her advantage today," Nakatani said. "Being that far off the pace today was by instruction from my trainer. He told me what to do, and I did it. ... There was no concern whatsoever about getting there in time. I know this filly. I always get on her, and I know what she's capable of doing."
Madam Dancealot came to the Baltas barn late in 2016 after a group 3 win in England, and she broke through for her first U.S. graded win in the San Clemente Handicap (G2T) at Del Mar in July of 2017. She then placed in a trio of grade 1 grass races—the Del Mar Oaks Presented by The Jockey Club (G1T), Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup Stakes presented by Lane's End (G1T), and American Oaks (G1T)—and came in fifth in her 4-year-old debut Feb. 17 in the Buena Vista Stakes (G2T).
Bred in Ireland by Tally-Ho Stud, out of the Danehill mare Sisal, Madam Dancealot now has a 5-4-2 record from 17 starts and $489,775 in earnings.
"I never would have thought she could've gone this far when we first got her, but she's really changed," Baltas said. "She still hasn't won a grade 1, but she's been knocking on the door."