In ideal striking position third while Egg Drop pressed Miss Serendipity through fractions of :23.47, :46.95, and 1:10.06 in the one-mile event, Pontchartrain was ready to fire nearing the home turn when Hall of Fame jockey Gary Steven gave her the cue. She lengthened stride to engage the frontrunners and the trio raced as a team until the winner knuckled down and edged past in mid-stretch to secure a one-length victory.
Making her season debut after a nose victory in the Matriarch Stakes (gr. I) in December, Egg Drop had her win three-race streak halted as the slight 2-1 favorite. She kept on to take second, a head better than Tapicat
, who stalked from fourth on the rail early and came out in the stretch for the show spot as Miss Serendipity faded to fourth.
A 4-year-old filly by Claiborne Farm resident War Front
, Pontchartrain won a fourth consecutive race, all at the California oval, while stretching out to a mile after victories on the hillside turf course in the Monrovia Stakes (gr. IIT) Jan. 5 as well as the Unzip Me Stakes Sept. 28 and Senator Ken Maddy Stakes (gr. IIIT) Nov. 2 to close last season.
Stevens said he was hoping for exactly the kind of trip Pontchatrain got in the Buena Vista.
"With a filly like her, you can get a perfect trip. She has good gate speed. Those races down the hill, for fillies that are tough to handle, it changes their whole mind set," he said.
"She relaxed for me and we just brought it home. I think if she keeps relaxing for me we can go even further with her. Even if she doesn't relax, she's a great miler. She's a super filly."
The 2-1 second choice, Pontchatrain covered the distance in 1:33.33 on firm turf while scoring her sixth win from eight career starts for trainer Tom Proctor.
Egg Drop's rider, Martin Garcia, said his filly just got beat by a better filly on the day.
"We got beat by a really good horse," he remarked. "My filly was running easy, but I could see when the winner came to us that she was full of run. My filly tried to fight back."
Pontchatrain's win was worth $7, $3.60 and $3 while Egg Drop paid $3.20 and $2.40. Tapicat paid $3.20 as the 3-1 third choice.
Pontchatrain was bred in Kentucky by Lavin Bloodstock and Kenowa Stable out of the Housebuster mare Dominica. She was a $200,000 purchase by Glen Hill Farm from the 2011 Keeneland September yearling sale when consigned by Longfield Farm, agent.
Craig Bernick, president of Glen Hill Farm and grandson of Glen Hill founder and owner Leonard Lavin, was pleased with his filly's triumph.
"We thought she was a miler, even though she's won going 6 1/2 (furlongs) going down the hill," he said. "She's a very nice horse and we're excited to have her."