ARCADIA, Calif. (Dec. 30, 2012)—In a finish that the race’s namesake would have relished, English-bred Qaraaba came running from dead last in a field of nine fillies and mares to take Sunday’s Grade III, $150,000 Robert J. Frankel Stakes at Santa Anita, covering 1 1/8 miles on a rain-soaked turf in 1:49.20, while winning in-hand by 1 ¼ lengths under Julien Leparoux.
Last going to the far turn, Qaraaba, trained by Simon Callaghan, sat well off splits of 24.41, 49.69, 1:13.85 and 1:37.66, and was taken four-wide by Leparoux entering the stretch. At that point the race was, for all intents and purposes, over as the 5-year-old mare motored to her first graded stakes victory.
“Simon told me to ride her with a lot of confidence and I did,” said the two-time Eclipse Award-winning Leparoux. “She’s a very handy filly and she relaxed perfectly. As you could see, she won pretty easily and she had a lot left.”
A five-time minor stakes winner in England, Qaraaba was an impressive winner in her U.S. debut, taking a second-condition allowance going 1 1/16 miles on turf at Betfair Hollywood Park on Nov. 15 at odds of 4-5.
“We thought the world of this filly from Day One,” said Callaghan. “She’s special. She’ll get better as she goes further. You need to take her back and get her to relax, no matter what the pace is. Julien did a good job.
The second choice at 5-2 in Sunday’s Frankel, Qaraaba paid $7.20, $4.00 and $2.80. Owned by Michael Tabor and Alice Bamford, Qaraaba banked $90,000 on Sunday and extended her bankroll to $171,119. Her record now stands at 15-7-2-1.
Tiz Flirtatious, one of two California-breds in the Frankel, for fillies and mares three years old and up, ran second with Rafael Bejarano as the 7-5 favorite, 1 ¼ lengths in front More Chocolate and Garrett Gomez.