ARCADIA, Calif. (March 14, 2015)–California-bred Warren’s Veneda firmly established herself as the West Coast’s top older filly or mare with a sensational 7 ¼ length win in Saturday’s Grade I, $400,000 Santa Margarita Stakes, as she negotiated 1 1/8 miles under Tyler Baze in 1:48.73.
Conditioned by Craig Lewis, the 5-year-old chestnut mare by Affirmative registered her third win in-a-row and followed up on a career-best 2 ¾ length win in the Grade II Santa Maria Stakes on Feb. 14. Drawn outside in a field of six older fillies and mares, Warren’s Veneda was hung three-wide while last into the Club House turn and cruised to the leaders while in-hand under Baze going to the far turn. Three-wide turning for home she lengthened her considerable stride and put her competition away with a furlong to run.
“The last three times I’ve ridden her, she just does things so easy,” said Baze. “I haven’t gotten to the bottom of her yet. There’s so much horse under me and she just does what she needs to do to win…Usually, if you’re sitting mid-pack, horses won’t flick their ears back and forth and just relax, but she was…and was totally relaxed.
“Craig tells me she’s only getting better and she proved it today. She’s special. She’s named after Mr. Warren’s late wife, so I know how special this is for him.”
Owned by her breeder, Benjamin, C. Warren, Warren’s Veneda provided Warren, who has owned and bred horses in California for 35 years, with his first-ever Grade I win.
“Out of our 800 horses, that’s the best win, the biggest,” said Warren, who currently resides in Las Vegas.
The 3-2 favorite, Warren’s Veneda paid $5.00, $2.60 and $2.20. The Santa Margarita was her eighth win from 22 career starts, and with the winner’s share of $240,000, she increased her earnings to $827,612.
“I was pretty confident that she was going to win, but I didn’t think that she would be that dominating, because I thought the two Eastern fillies (runner-up Dame Dorothy and early pace setter Cassatt) looked awful good on paper,” said Lewis. “We’re thinking about the Charles Town Classic (versus males on April 18). We’re going to have to take on some pretty tough boys, but she could be up to the task.”
Dame Dorothy, who shipped in from South Florida for trainer Todd Pletcher, stalked the early pace and overhauled Thegirlinthatsong and Uzziel late to run second by a half length. Ridden by Rafael Bejarano, Dame Dorothy was the second choice at 2-1 and paid $3.20 and $2.60.
Ridden by Mike Smith, Thegirlinthatsong was off at 8-1 and finished third, a half length in front of Uzziel and paid $2.80 to show.
Fractions on the race were 23.15, 46.64, 1:10.68 and 1:35.79.
First post time for a nine-race card on Sunday is at 12:30 p.m. Admission gates open at 10:30 a.m.