ARCADIA, Calif. (Dec. 31, 2016)–Although Saturday’s $100,000 Robert J. Frankel Stakes was for the moment denied its Grade III status due to a shift from Santa Anita’s turf course to the main track, Irish-bred Goodyearforroses unleashed a graded-worthy performance, as she took command turning down the backside under Corey Nakatani en route to a powerful 5 ¼ length win as she covered a mile and one eighth over a sloppy surface in 1:51.42. (The Frankel’s ultimate graded status will be determined by the American Graded Stakes Committee in the coming week).
Idle since running a close third in a Grade III stakes run at 1 ¼ miles over Woodbine’s synthetic main track, Goodyearforroses made her first start on dirt today in what was also her Southern California debut for new trainer Richard Baltas.
As for Nakatani, who made his return to the saddle here on Monday following an 8 ½ month hiatus from the saddle, the victory, which was his second on the day, was vintage “C. Nak,” as he seized the initiative early aboard a horse he’d never ridden in the afternoon.
“The plan was, whatever came easy to her, don’t take it away,” said Nakatani. “It was an off track, so I just went out there and did my job. I just shook her up a little turning for home, and she kicked on…It’s always nice to win here at Santa Anita Park…I have to thank Richard and the owners for having faith in me.”
With no show wagering due to three late scratches necessitated by the change in surface, Goodyearforroses was off at 5-2 in a field of four fillies and mares three and up and paid $7.60 and $3.60.
A 4-year-old filly, Goodyearforroses, who is now owned by Abbondanza Racing, LLC, got her fifth win from 13 starts and with the winner’s share of $60,000, increased her earnings to $199,195.
“She’s trained very forwardly and has worked well,” said Baltas. “When the race came off the turf, we thought, ‘Well, it’s a small field and she kind of skips across the dirt in the mornings.’ I didn’t know if she was going to like it or not, but she’s a very sound horse and I thought it was worth giving her a shot, especially with all the scratches.”
Part of a three-way tussle for the early lead along with the winner and eventual third place finisher, Frenzified, Argentine-bred Pretty Girl finished second by 7 ¼ lengths. Ridden by Drayden Van Dyke, Pretty Girl was off at 7-2 and paid $4.00 to show.
Fractions on the race were 23.44, 47.12, 1:11.24 and 1:37.53.