BIRDLOVER CUTS BACK IN DISTANCE & TAKES $75,000 MIZDIRECTION STAKES OVER DOWNHILL TURF; SMITH, O’NEILL COMBINE TO WIN BY A HEAD IN 1:13.56

 

ARCADIA, Calif. (May 22, 2015)–English-bred Birdlover shortened up out of two consecutive one mile turf routes to take Friday’s $75,000 Mizdirection Stakes by a head going 6 ½ furlongs down Santa Anita’s hillside turf course. Ridden by Mike Smith and trained by Doug O’Neill, Birdlover pressed favored Home Journey early and exacted a narrow victory following a head and head battle through the lane, getting the distance in 1:13.56.

“I pushed Rafael (Bejarano, aboard eventual runner-up Home Journey) pretty good the first part and then we were able to ease back some,” said Smith. “I’ve ridden Birdlover before and she tends to wait when she gets to the front. She gave me that ‘locked-on’ feeling today though She wasn’t going to let her go by.”

A 5-year-old mare by the Green Desert stallion Byron, Birdlover, who is owned by Cseplo, Keh, Kramer and W.C. Racing, was off as the second choice at 2-1 and paid $6.40, $2.80 and $2.40.

“You never expect a charge down to the wire like that,” said O’Neill. “We know she’s a nice mare and Mike has ridden her well in the past…She broke well, he put her in a great spot and it was a great horse race. You could do that 10 times and they each would probably win five of them.”

Third, beaten a head in the Grade III Wilshire Stakes April 26, Birdlover got her third win from five starts down Santa Anita’s unique hillside layout and improved her overall mark to 17-6-5-1. With the winner’s share of $47,100, she increased her earnings to $317,635.

Off as the 6-5 favorite in a field of seven fillies and mares 3-and-up, Home Journey finished 5 ½ lengths clear of Alexis Tangier and paid $2.60 and $2.20.

Ridden by Victor Espinoza, Alexis Tangier cut to the inside turning for home, but had to settle for third money while finishing 2 ¾ lengths in front of longshot Sayes So. The third choice in the tote at 7-2, Alexis Tangier paid $2.80 to show.

Fractions on the race were 21.75, 44.76 and 1:07.54.

First post time on Saturday, California Gold Rush Day, is at 12:30 p.m. Admission gates open at 10:30 a.m.