ARCADIA, Calif. (March 14, 2015)–“It was an ugly race on my part, but a great result.” So said Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens following Go West Marie’s half length victory in Saturday’s $100,000 Irish O’Brien Stakes at Santa Anita, a race in which the California-bred filly trained by Eddie Truman overcame seemingly insurmountable traffic trouble en route to negotiating 6 ½ furlongs down the hillside turf course in 1:12.90.
“I didn’t think she’d overcome that traffic that late in the race,” said Truman. “No shot. Gary was just waiting (to find an opening). Any time, right?…and then when they closed the hole coming across the dirt, what’s he going to do? He tried out, he tried in again, and then, zoom. That’s a race horse. What a heart. She is something.”
Off at 7-5 in a field of seven older fillies and mares bred or sired in California, Go West Marie, a 4-year-old filly by Western Fame, paid $4.80, $3.40 and $2.20. Now a perfect three-in-a-row with Stevens up, she came off a three quarter length win down the hill in the Sunshine Millions Filly & Mare Turf Sprint on Jan. 24 and with the O’Brien win, improved her overall record to 18-6-1-5. Owned by Peter Redekop BC, Ltd., she picked up $60,000 for the win, increasing her earnings to $462,520.
“Not really what I want to add to my Hall of Fame tape reel,” quipped Stevens. “I was so loaded coming down the hill with so much horse. Talamo’s filly (Demonica) was lugging out prior to crossing the dirt. I thought, ‘I’m going to get a run here, it’s just a question of when I want to push the button.
“I could have come out, but Mike (Smith, aboard Velvet Mesquite) was getting out a bit and I chose to stay inside. It was really the wrong decision. I got stopped cold inside the eighth pole and in these off the hill races, you don’t want to get stopped there. Her turn of foot is brilliant and I had enough (of a) spread that I was able to get out without interfering with the horses behind me.”
Last after the first half mile, longshot Qiaona rallied wide-out under Rafael Bejarano to nail Velvet Mesquite by a nose for the place. Off at 9-1, she paid $7.20 and $3.20.
Velvet Mesquite, who entered the Irish O’Brien with five wins from eight starts down the hillside course, appeared to have a perfect trip under Mike Smith, but was no match for the winner. The second choice in the wagering at 8-5, she finished a half length in front of Bert’s Melody and paid $2.20 to show.
NOTE: The winner, who is out of the Swiss Yodeler mare Marie’s Rose, was bred in California by former trainer Summer Mayberry.