ARCADIA, Calif. (Jan. 17, 2016)–Forwardly placed throughout under Brice Blanc, Havanna Belle blew by favored Gaga A a sixteenth of a mile from home and marched to a 2 ¼ length victory in Santa Anita’s $75,000 Astra Stakes on Sunday. Trained by Phil D’Amato, the 4-year-old Irish-bred filly got the marathon distance of a mile and one half on turf in 2:27.03.
“I was able to work her last week and I’ve watched videos of her,” said Blanc. “I always thought she looked like maybe she was too far back. When I worked her the other day, she acted like a filly that has a little kick, but not necessarily like a filly that can come from way out of the clouds.
“I was able to break from the gate well and she put me right into the race. I was a little worried. She got a little keen the first part but I was able to give her a little breather coming onto the front side and it made all the difference. It was just how I envisioned it in my head.”
A troubled eighth in a second condition allowance going one mile on turf here Dec. 30, Havanna Belle was winless in her last four starts. Off at 10-1 in a field of nine older fillies and mares, she paid $22.20, $10.80 and $8.00.
“It took her a bit to settle, but I thought that the whole way around Brice had her in the perfect spot tracking,” said D’Amato. “When it was time to make his move he angled her out and got it.”
Owned by Michael House, Havanna Belle notched her third win from 14 lifetime starts and with the winner’s share of $47,520, increased her earnings to $111,813.
“I’m very happy,” said House in the Winner’s Circle. “This filly has always shown promise but she hasn’t had too many clean trips. Brice put her into the race today and then got her to relax.”
Brazilian-bred Energia Fribby, who added blinkers, settled nicely in the early stages and finished well to complete the exacta under Mario Gutierrez. Off at 18-1, she finished a nose in front of fellow longshot Sweet as a Rose and paid $18.60 and $12.80.
Ridden by Drayden Van Dyke, Sweet as a Rose rallied from off the pace as well and paid $7.40 to show.
Fractions on the race were 23.55, 47.12, 1:12.17, 1:37.28 and 2:02.31.
First post time for a nine-race card on Monday is 12:30 p.m. Admission gates open at 10:30 a.m.