SWITCH FROM TURF TO DIRT RESULTS IN SIX SCRATCHES, GRADED STATUS TO BE DETERMINED
ARCADIA, Calif. (Feb. 18, 2017)–Originally categorized as a Grade II and scheduled for a mile on turf, Saturday’s Grade III, $200,000 Buena Vista Stakes was shifted to the main track due to heavy rains on Friday, resulting in six late scratches, but Richard Mandella’s Wild At Heart was undeterred, as she streaked to a 3 ½ length win under Flavien Prat while getting a flat mile on a fast track in 1:36.48.
A close third moving into the far turn, Wild At Heart pounced on pacesetters Hillhouse High and Lily Pod three furlongs from home, shook loose of the latter straightening for home and won as much best while notching her first added money victory.
The 3-2 favorite in a field of five older fillies and mares, Wild At Heart, a 5-year-old Kentucky-bred mare by Indian Charlie, paid $5.00, $3.00 and $2.60.
“After the scratches, the race got a bit easier,” said Mandella, who was also instrumental in Prat’s development as one of America’s bright young riding stars. “We were anxious to see what she could do on the turf, but I’ll take what happened here today…You know I’m partial to Flavien. To me, he looked great when he was 18 years old (now 24). I think he does make a difference. I think he’s one of the best that we’ve seen in a long time.”
Owned by Ramona S. Bass, LLC, Wild At Heart, who was a well beaten fourth here in the Grade II La Canada Stakes on Jan. 14, got her third win from 11 starts and with the winner’s check of $120,000, she increased her earnings to $331,305.
“The pace was fast, but that’s the way it set up today,” said Prat, who is also Santa Anita’s leading rider through 31 days with 35 wins. “She won pretty easy though. She was much better today than last time out.”
Ridden by Martin Garcia, Lily Pod sat a close second most of the trip and maintained that position late, finishing 6 ¼ lengths in front of Hillhouse High. Off at 7-2, Lily Pod paid $4.00 and $3.00.
Hillhouse High, who had no answer for the winner around the far turn, held third by a nose over Jeremy’s Legacy. Ridden by Santiago Gonzalez, Hillhouse High was off at 5-1 and paid $3.20 to show.
Fractions on the race were 22.97, 45.89, 1:10.22 and 1:23.00.
Note: The American Graded Stakes Committee will review the result of the Buena Vista in the next week and will determine whether it will remain a Grade III or be restored to its original Grade II status.