ARCADIA, Calif. (Feb. 13, 2016)–A close fourth mid-way down the backstretch, favored Tara’s Tango split horses three off the rail coming to the quarter pole and went on to a hard earned half length victory in Saturday’s Grade II, $200,000 Santa Maria Stakes at Santa Anita. Trained by Jerry Hollendorfer and ridden by Martin Garcia, Tara’s Tango outran Yahilwa late and got 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.48.
Third, beaten a neck here in the Grade II, seven furlong Santa Monica Stakes Jan. 23, Tara’s Tango, a 4-year-old Kentucky-bred filly by Unbridled’s Song, registered her first graded stakes win in her ninth career start.
“I think this is the distance she wants to run, I think she wants two turns,” said Garcia. “She doesn’t have a lot of early speed. I think she prefers to go at her own pace and this distance lets her run at her own pace.”
The 9-5 favorite in a field of eight older fillies and mares, Tara’s Tango paid $5.80, $3.20 and $2.60.
“We thought she could route because she did run against the Eclipse Award winner (3-year-old Filly, Stellar Wind, who beat Tara’s Tango by a nose in Santa Anita’s Summertime Oaks on June 20),” said Hollendorfer. “I was a little distressed when she came away from the gate slower than we wanted her to, but Martin got her into a good position right away…I think one of the key things was that Martin let (Birdatthewire) go, so that he could make his own pace.”
Owned and bred by Stonestreet Stables, LLC, Tara’s Tango improved her overall mark to 9-3-3-1. With the winner’s share of $120,000, she increased her earnings to $318,004.
Yahilwa, who came off a third place finish in the Grade II, 1 1/16 miles La Canada Stakes on Jan. 16, pressed the pace under Joe Talamo and stayed gamely for the place, finishing three quarters of a length in front of Living The Life. Off at 7-2, Yahilwa paid $3.80 and $2.80.
“She ran a helluva race, she really did,” said Talamo. “The plan was to let her break out of there and place herself, which she pretty much did. She ran huge, I mean the winner came to us and she fought back. She did everything but win.
Irish-bred Living The Life had the lead into the Club House turn and ran a huge race under Gary Stevens, finishing 1 ¼ lengths in front of Kyriaki. Off at 9-2, Living The Life paid $3.20 to show.
The disappointment in the race was Birdatthewire, who was the second choice with Mike Smith at 2-1 and finished a non-threatening fifth.
Fractions on the race were 23.54, 46.97, 1:11.45 and 1:37.73.
First post time for a nine-race card Sunday at Santa Anita is at 12:30 p.m. Admission gates open at 10:30 a.m.