Jockey Victor Espinoza put favored Teddy's Promise on the outside where she likes to be and the daughter of Salt Lake did the rest, rolling to an easy victory in the $250,000 Santa Monica Stakes (gr. II) at Santa Anita Park Jan. 26 (VIDEO).
Ted and Judy Nichols' 5-year-old California homebred registered her first graded stakes victory since taking the La Brea (gr. I) at Santa Anita in December 2011. She won by three lengths while running seven furlongs in 1:22.64 over a sealed track listed as wet-fast.
It was the second stakes win of the meet for Teddy's Promise following a 5 1/4-length romp in the 6 1/2-furlong Kalookan Queen Dec. 29, also over a wet-fast track. Ron Ellis trains the dark bay or brown mare, who ran eighth in last fall's Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (gr. I) when she gave way after setting the pace for a half-mile.
"She's back in form," Ellis said. "I think that last race kind of got her a lot of confidence. She's really starting to relax and mature mentally. Physically, she's always been quite a specimen, but mentally she's really turned a corner for us. I certainly don't think the mud hurts her.
"Her last one was on a little bit of a wet track. This was a muddier track today, but she won a grade I on a fast track, so I think here at Santa Anita on the regular dirt it's a little bit better fit."
Seven older fillies and mares competed in the Santa Monica, with Teddy's Promise going off as the 3-2 choice.
Breaking from the outside, Kindle shot to the front and angled to the inside for Edwin Maldonado, allowing Teddy's Promise to settle into a stalking position off the rail behind the leader in third. Kindle carved a quick opening quarter mile of :22.86 while leading Distracting and held a one-length advantage after backing off a bit. She stepped a half mile in :45.69 as Teddy's Promise crept closer rounding the bend.
But Kindle continued to show the way to mid-stretch before weakening in her first try at seven furlongs. Teddy's Promise took over past the eighth pole, drawing away under Espinoza's urging in the final furlong for a convincing win.
"She broke a little slow out of the gate but it was good for me," Espinoza said of the winner. "That's what I wanted, a chance to move to the outside. There were two horses in front of me and I just tracked them. At the three-eighths pole I kind of just let her do her own thing, and turning for home I just let her run.
"When she's good she can beat anybody. She and I have been getting along the few times I rode her. I know how she likes to run and she ran big in the last race and then again today. Hopefully she has come back as herself."
Sugarinthemorning, rallying from fourth in the lane for Martin Garcia, got up for second in the final strides over Kindle by half a length. Distracting held on for fourth.
Teddy's Promise ran fifth in last year's Santa Monica, when it was a grade I event. Out of the Capote mare Braids and Beads, she picked up her eighth lifetime win in 21 starts while boosting her bankroll to $634,981.
Under equal weights of 118 pounds, Teddy's Promise returned $5, $3.40, $2.40. Sugarinthemorning, also second in last year's Santa Monica when a neck shy for Hall of Fame trainer Ron McAnally, paid $7 and $4.20 while completing a $40.60 exacta. The show price on Kindle, switching from the turf for trainer Gary Mandella, was $3.40.
Distracting was followed by Belle of the Hall, Journaliste, and Pink Lollipops.
Byrama and Rumor were scratched.