James Weigel's 9-1 outsider Dream of Summer made her initial foray into graded stakes company look as simple as can be, recording a gate-to-wire victory in the $150,000 A Gleam Invitational Handicap (gr. II) for fillies and mares at Hollywood Park Saturday.
Dream of Summer, a gray/roan California-bred 5-year-old mare trained by Juan Garcia, won geared down by jockey Mike Smith by 3 1/2 lengths over 14-1 shot Tucked Away in a time of 1:21 for the seven furlongs. Elusive Diva finished third.
"I certainly didn't think it would be that easy," Smith said. "She left there with run on her mind, got out there and really relaxed. At just about every pole, she would take a breath. That was the key today. She's been training for a performance like that today. I was glad to see it happen, and she loves Hollywood, too. That certainly helped."
Multiple grade I winner Elloluv, sent off as the 9-5 choice in her first start since Dec. 27, faded to sixth after stalking the leaders into the stretch.
"We expected she might need a race," jockey Corey Nakatani said. "I tried to get her interested early, put her in a good spot and not be too hard on her. The winner just ran away from us, that's all."
The homebred daughter of Siberian Summer out of the dam Mary's Dream (by Skywalker) won her third straight while stepping way up in class. In her first race since October, she won an optional claiming allowance event at Hollywood Park June 4 by four lengths.
Weigel, who has been in breeding partnerships for 35 years, said Dream of Summer is the first horse he has raced as sole proprietor.
"But if you want to hear a good one, it's that anybody could have had Dream of Summer for $10,000 at Barrett's yearling sale. But the high bid was $7,000, so we took her back to the ranch."
Garcia won his first graded stakes at Hollywood Park.
Breaking from the extreme outside post in a field of nine, she went to the lead while racing off the rail and never looked back while clicking off no-fooling fractions of :22, :44 and 1:08. She kicked away 3 1/2 lengths clear of Elusive Diva with an eighth of a mile to go and maintained her edge under a brisk hand ride until nearly home.
Dream of Summer earned $90,000 for her fifth win in seven starts, which increased her earnings to $232,500.
Tucked Away, unhurried down the backstretch for Kent Desormeaux, had to wait for room coming off the turn and just got the place by a neck over Elusive Diva and Rafael Bejarano.
"With all due respect to the big run from the winner, I had to wait longer than I was comfortable waiting," Desormeaux said. "She had a little traffic trouble. She'll win one of these before too long."
Coconut Girl, Stormica, Elloluv, Pocketfullofpesos, Fenclineneighbor and Royally Chosen rounded out the order of finish.
Dream Of Summer paid $20.60, $10.40 and $6.60. Tucked Away returned $12 and $6.20 and completed a $250.40 exacta. Elusive Diva was $5.20 to show.