Glencrest Farm's Panty Raid, making her turf debut for trainer Todd Pletcher, got a dream stalking trip under Edgar Prado to win the $750,000 American Oaks (gr. IT) (VIDEO) for 3-year-old fillies in a mild surprise on the Hollywood Park turf course Saturday.
Pletcher made it back-to-back wins in the American Oaks after taking last year's running with the Eclipse Award-winning filly Wait a While.
"It was a beautiful trip," Prado said. "We were in the perfect position, and when I asked, she really responded. She proved today that she could go either way, turf or dirt."
Panty Raid, a dark bay Include filly, was the winner of the Black-Eyed Susan (gr. II) in her last start at Pimlico May 18. She has now won three in a row for Pletcher, who earlier in the day won the $750,000 United Nations (gr. IT) at Monmouth Park with English Channel. Pletcher didn't travel from his East Coast base for the race, so assistant Ginny DePasquale saddled his horses.
"It's pretty wide open where we will take her next," DePasquale said. "I had a lot of confidence in her, and I really thought she could do it today because she tries hard and gives it her all every time."
Perfectly positioned on the outside while racing close to a meandering pace, Panty Raid overtook the leaders in upper stretch after a three-wide bid on the final turn. She inched away gamely from the furlong pole and was under full urging as she hit the wire three parts of a length in front in a time of 2:01 2/5 for the 1 1/4-mile distance on a baking firm course.
The Irish-bred Valbenny overcame some bumping in the lane with the troubled Supposition -- whose saddle slipped -- and rallied nicely as well to get second under Alex Solis. It was another three-quarters of a length to Austalasian Oaks (Aus-I) winner Anamato, ridden by Michael Rodd, who was also bumped mid-stretch after fanning out four wide for the run home.
"It made it kind of tough on my filly," Solis said. "I didn't know where to go on the turn."
"I think I could have finished a little bit closer, but there was a horse that was a little bit in trouble and I had to go around her," said Rodd, who traveled from Australia with Anamato.
Sent off as the fourth choice in the nine-horse field, the winner paid $13, $5.40, and $3.20. Valbenny, the local hope after winning the Honeymoon Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. IIT) in her last start, returned $3.40 and $2.60 as the 5-2 wagering favorite. Anamato was $3.60 to show.
Anamato was trying to become the first Australian-bred and trained horse to win a major North American race since Phar Lap took the 1932 Agua Caliente Handicap.
"I've always wanted to have a runner in this part of the world," said David Hayes, who trains Anamato. "I'm relieved that she ran well. She was the first foreigner home. My phone has been running hot all morning. It was a little bit of pressure."
Anamato arrived at Hollywood Park in mid-June and didn't eat well during her first 10 days in quarantine. She hadn't raced in 11 weeks.
"I'm relieved that she ran well," Hayes said. "She didn't eat or drink the first 10 days she was here, but she got better the last seven. She proved our horses can be competitive here. If I have another good one, I will come back."
Communique was fourth, followed by Japanese Oaks (Jpn-I) winner Robe Decollete, French-bred Just Little, English-bred Supposition and Baroness Thatcher in the race for 3-year-old fillies. Pletcher's other entry, Audacious Chloe, finished last after contesting Baroness Thatcher for the lead as they crawled through fractions of :24 4/5, :48 and 1:13 4/5.
Panty Raid earned her fourth victory in six lifetime starts -- all but one coming this year -- and boosted her earnings to $692,275 with Saturday's winning purse of $450,000. Out of the Private Account mare Adventurous Di, Panty Raid was bred in Kentucky by Heaven Trees Farm and was sold for $275,000 at Keeneland's 2-year-old sale in April 2006.