Spanish Queen wins $400,000 American Oaks at Santa Anita
ARCADIA, Calif. (AP) Spanish Queen rallied three-wide turning for home to win the $400,000 American Oaks by three-quarters of a length Saturday at Santa Anita, stamping herself as one of the nation's top 3-year-old fillies.
Ridden by Brice Blanc, Spanish Queen ran 1 1/4 miles on turf in 2:01.93 and paid $3.40, $2.60 and $2.10 as the heavy 3-5 favorite in the field of six.
Feathered returned $4.80 and $3.40 after shipping in from New York for trainer Todd Pletcher. Consumer Credit was another three-quarters of a length back in third and paid $2.80 to show.
Blanc said his saddle slipped and it affected his ability to steer Spanish Queen.
''The more I pulled on her, the more the saddle moved forward so I was a little, I wouldn't say out of control, but I had to give and take a little more so it wouldn't move any further on me,'' Blanc said. ''She keeps improving and she loves her job.''
The victory, worth $240,000, increased Spanish Queen's career earnings to $423,600, with three wins in four starts. It was the second career Grade 1 victory for trainer Richard Baltas, who turned 54 Saturday.
''I was never favored in a Grade 1 race like I was today with Spanish Queen,'' Baltas said. ''There's so much pressure and when you win, there's a big sigh of congratulations and relief. This is the best birthday present I could ever have.''
In the $200,000 Californian Stakes, Catch a Flight outdueled 6-5 favorite Moreno to win by a half-length.
Ridden by Hall of Famer Gary Stevens, Argentina-bred Catch a Flight ran 1 1/8 miles in 1:47.73 and paid $6.60, $3.20 and $2.80.
Catch a Flight was a close third behind Big Cazanova and Moreno, went three-wide at the top of the stretch and put away Moreno inside the sixteenth pole.
''It looked like a match race and it was a match race until inside the eighth pole,'' Stevens said. ''He's just now starting to figure out American racing. I think he's still improving and I don't think we've seen the best of him yet.''
Moreno returned $2.60 and $2.40, while Hard Aces was another 3 1/2 lengths back in third and paid $3.60 to show.
The victory, worth $120,000, increased Catch a Flight's career earnings to $393,239, with nine wins in 15 starts. Hall of Famer trainer Richard Mandella has saddled Catch a Flight to three wins in five U.S. starts.
''When Gary goosed him at the quarter pole, he responded pretty quickly,'' Mandella said. ''Every step he's made had been forward.''