ARCADIA, Calif. (Jan. 4, 2015)–Shrinking Violet stepped forward to take Sunday’s Grade II, $200,000 Monrovia Stakes with consummate ease, as Kent Desormeaux guided her to a 1 ¼ length tally while covering 6 ½ furlongs down Santa Anita’s hillside turf course in 1:12.56.
Breaking from the rail in a field of 11 older fillies and mares, the well-traveled 5-year-old mare by Congaree sat a close third behind stablemate To My Valentine and favored Velvet Mesquite through fractions of 21.71, 44.05 and 1:06.46. When the field made the dirt crossing at the top of the lane, Desormeaux stepped on the gas and the Monrovia was, for all intents and purposes, over a furlong out.
“The filly has been to 12 different racetracks,” said Desormeaux, who won a classified allowance with her four starts back at Gulfstream Park in December, 2013. “She tracks like a European. The leaders spread (apart) crossing the dirt so I filled that spot and she was full of run at that point. I’ve ridden her before and I know her well.”
Off at 10-1, Shrinking Violet paid $22.20, $12.00 and $7.60. Owned and trained by Wesley Ward, Shrinking Violet, who came off a third place finish in a minor stakes at Turfway Park near Cincinnati on Dec. 6, picked up her first graded stakes win and her seventh win from 16 career starts. With the winner’s share of $120,000, she increased her earnings to $394,677. (In her first-ever Santa Anita appearance, Shrinking Violet had run at eight different tracks in her last 12 starts).
“We won, that’s what counts,” said assistant trainer Blake Heap, who also saddled Ward’s To My Valentine and the favorite, Velvet Mesquite, who he conditions himself. “All three horses ran great. The winner is a nice filly. The only thing I told Kent was that the two horse (To My Valentine) had to be kind of in front and for him to break and try to get through up the fence. It just happened to work perfect for him.” (Velvet Mesquite finished third, beaten 1 ½ lengths after a sluggish start and To My Valentine finished fifth, beaten less than two lengths).
Ridden by Victor Espinoza, Heat Trap made a big run from off the pace and finished second, a head in front of Velvet Mesquite. Off at 4-1, Heat Trap paid $5.60 and $3.60.
Velvet Mesquite, the 7-2 favorite with Mike Smith up, finished a nose in front of Sky Treasure and paid $3.60 to show.
Santa Anita will re-open for a four-day race week on Thursday, with first post time at 1 p.m. Admission gates will open at 11 a.m.