ARCADIA, Calif. (May 27, 2017)–With a fast pace to exploit, classy Illuminant, with Flavien Prat aboard, charged up the rail and prevailed by a half length over longshot Coniah in Saturday’s Grade II, $200,000 Monrovia Stakes at Santa Anita. Trained by Michael McCarthy, Illuminant, a winner of last year’s Grade I, 1 1/8 miles turf Gamely Stakes, covered 6 ½ furlongs on turf in 1:12.13.
Most recently seventh in the Grade I, Jenny Wiley Stakes at Keeneland on April 15, Illuminant, a 5-year-old Pennsylvania-bred mare by Quality Road, was the second choice at 8-5 in a field of eight fillies and mares three and up and paid $5.20, $3.40 and $2.80.
“Even a broken clock is right twice a day,” quipped Aron Wellman, on behalf of co-owner Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners. “We wanted to defend our title (today) in the (Grade I) Gamely, but this race made more sense. Sol (Kumin, a part of Head of Plains Partners) owns part of Lady Eli (today’s Gamely winner), so this just made more sense. We’re very happy with the way she ran.”
A winner over the course of the Wishing Well Stakes two starts back on March 10, Illuminant now has three wins from five hillside starts and her overall record now stands at 14-6-2-1. With the winner’s share of $120,000, she now has earnings of $536,243.
“This is the first time that she’s actually laid off the pace, going down the hill, so I was a little nervous to say the least,” said McCarthy. “But once she cut going across the dirt, I thought she had it. Going across the dirt I could see her quicken.”
Prat, who’s ridden Illuminant in her last seven starts, said, “That was a dream trip. She broke well and she’s just not fast enough to follow that fast pace…Crossing the dirt, I was low and everything opened up down by the rail. It was great.”
Ridden by Irad Ortiz, Jr., Coniah gained a narrow advantage in midstretch, but couldn’t hold off the winner, finishing second by 1 ¼ lengths over Anita Partner. Off at 25-1, Coniah paid $16.60 and $7.60.
Irish-bred Anita Partner, who was ridden by Brice Blanc, was last early, rallied three-wide turning for home and finished a half length in front of Brazilian-bred Juno. Off at 13-1, Anita Partner paid $5.60 to show.
Enola Gray, the 6-5 favorite with Tyler Baze, was part of a three-horse battle up front and tired to finish fifth.
Fractions on the race were 21.29, 43.04 and 1:06.10.