ARCADIA, Calif. (March 7, 2014)–A multiple minor stakes winner in her native England, 7-5 favorite Rhagori rallied from off the pace under Rafael Bejarano in her U.S. debut Friday, taking Santa Anita’s third race by a neck in a $58,000 allowance for older fillies at one mile on turf, covering the distance in 1:35.45.
Trained by Simon Callaghan, the 5-year-old mare by the Danehill stallion Exceed And Excel had been idle since Oct. 31 at Lingfield, Rhagori settled into stride next-to-last in a field of five into the Club House turn and was within striking distance into the far turn. While still within herself, she rallied smartly around the turn and was three-wide turning for home and wore down 9-5 second choice Miss Well Molded inside the sixteenth pole to win in-hand.
“Simon said she missed her last work so he told me that because there were really only two speed horses (Lilbourne Eliza and Miss Well Molded), he didn’t want me too far back. I found my position and we went from there. She was easily the best horse in there.”
Owned by Michael House, Rhagori paid $4.80, $2.80 and $2.20. With the winner’s share of $34,800, she increased her earnings to $73,682. She now has five wins from 15 career starts.
“She picked it up well and she won easily in the end,” said Callaghan. “I think she’ll progress from here and a mile, or a mile and a an eighth will be perfect for her.”
California-bred Miss Well Molded, ridden by Joe Talamo, sat a close second to Lilbourne Eliza through splits of 23.56, 47.09, 1:10.98 and 1:22.59, made the lead a furlong out and was game to the wire, finishing second, 2 ¼ lengths clear of the pacesetter.
Miss Well Molded paid $2.60 and $2.40.
Lilbourne Eliza, ridden by Victor Espinoza, was off at 4-1 and paid $2.60 to show.
Racing resumes on Saturday at Santa Anita, with special early first post time at 12 noon. The 77th running of the Grade I, $750,000 Santa Anita Handicap heads a blockbuster 11-race program that includes five stakes, four of them graded. Santa Anita will guarantee $500,000 in the 50 cent Late Pick 4.
In an unprecedented move, Santa Anita will offer the first 15,000 on-track attendees a complimentary ticket good for General Admission on Breeders’ Cup World Championships Day One, Friday, Oct. 31. For more information, please visit santaanita.com.