With a surge through the stretch under Joe Talamo, 9-1 shot Open Water upset the field in the $150,000 Marjorie L. Everett Handicap (gr. II) for her first stakes victory May 18 at Betfair Hollywood Park (VIDEO).
Trained by Eric Guillot for Southern Equine Stable and partners, Open Water overpowered odds-on choice Lady of Fifty in the drive to win inching away by one length. Final time for the 1 1/16-mile Cushion Track test for fillies and mares was 1:44.01. I Dazzle finished third in a contest reduced to six by the scratch of morning line choice More Chocolate.
Open Water, a 4-year-old daughter of Include bred in Kentucky by Overbrook Farm out of the A.P. Indy mare Biscayne Bay, was third in both the Las Virgenes Stakes (gr. I) and Del Mar Oaks (gr. IT) last year. She snapped an eight-race losing streak for Guillot.
"She's got a great pedigree. Maybe she's good enough to be a Southern Equine broodmare," Guillot said. "She's a grade II winner now and her second dam is Flanders. I think she can go a mile and one-eighth and I'll probably run her back in the Vanity (gr. I).''
The $250,000 Vanity at nine furlongs is June 15.
Formerly the Milady Handicap, the race name was changed last year to honor the former chairman, president, and chief operating officer of Hollywood Park who died in March 2012 at age 90.
Open Water stalked the leaders in fourth or fifth as Maker Or Breaker took the early lead over Sister Kate and carved solid quarter mile fractions under pressure of :23.34, :46.54, and 1:10.84. I Dazzle was about six lengths back in third, with Lady of Fifty, ridden by Rafael Bejarano, racing alongside Open Water.
Lady of Fifty and Open Water advanced on the leaders rounding the far turn and bid in the stretch on the outside of Sister Kate, who forged a narrow lead over Maker or Breaker approaching the quarter pole. Maker Or Breaker battled back in the stretch against Sister Kate. But Open Water, under strong urging from Talamo, was going the best of all on the far outside, finishing full of run to pull away from Lady of Fifty in the final furlong.
"You could tell they were rolling up front," Talamo said. "On this track you just can't go that fast early. She was in between horses at about the 4 1/2 (furlong pole) and (Lady of Fifty) was kind of pressing me a little, so I took back and went outside of her. At that time, she took a couple of breathers and I think that really helped down the lane. She was really game."
Open Water earned her third lifetime win from 14 start and boosted her earnings to $270,750. She had not been out since running sixth in the La Canada Stakes (gr. II) Jan. 20 at Santa Anita Park, her only prior start this season.
"She loves this track, that's why I gave her a little freshening after Santa Anita," Guillot said. "She danced every dance last year and she was always the bridesmaid, never the bride."
Lady of Fifty, who lacked an excuse, was 4 1/2 lengths clear of even-paced I Dazzle and Garrett Gomez. Maker or Breaker was fourth, followed by Sister Kate and Lady Aspen, who trailed throughout
Open Water paid $21.40, $6.20, and $3.20. Grade II winner Lady of Fifty, one of three entrants from the barn of Jerry Hollendorfer, returned $3 and $2.20 as the 7-10 pick while completing a $42.20 exacta. I Dazzle paid $3.40.
Hollendorfer also saddled Sister Kate and Lady Aspen.