STRIKING DANCER GAINS FIRST STAKES VICTORY IN LA CANADA; FIVE WINNING TICKETS IN PICK SIX PAY $313,721

ARCADIA, Calif. (Feb. 14, 2010) – After having raced predominantly on turf, Striking Dancer stormed home under jockey Alex Solis Sunday to capture the Grade II, $150,000 La Canada Stakes for 4-year-old fillies at 1 1/8 miles over Santa Anita’s Pro-Ride synthetic surface and gain her first stakes victory in her 11th career start.

Dismissed at 20-1 on the morning line and sent off at 13-1 in the field of 11, the daughter of Smart Strike ran past another longshot, 17-1 Gripsholm Castle to win by 1 ½ lengths with 6-1 Floating Heart another half-length back in third. The winning time was 1:48.48.

Stardom Bound, the 2-1 favorite, wound up a well-beaten seventh while being ridden by 2009 Eclipse Award-winning jockey Julien Leparoux for the first time. As a result, the champion juvenile filly of 2008 remained winless in four starts since being purchased by IEAH Stables and partners for $5.7 million last March.

Striking Dancer was making her second start at Santa Anita for Eastern-based trainer Kenny McPeek. In her previous competition over turf on Jan. 8, she finished seventh in an optional claimer, but encountered considerable trouble before ending up within 2 ¾ lengths of the winner, General Consensus.

Solis, who engineered Sunday’s triumph while aboard Striking Dancer for the first time, said. “The trainer (McPeek) called me and just told me, ‘I trust you. Just use your own judgment.’

“I had an awesome trip. I was able to save ground around the first turn. When we got to the five-eighths, I moved out where I had a good position and I had some options. She’s an awesome filly, and she beat a nice group of horses today.”

Striking Dancer rewarded her backers with payoffs of $28.60, $11.20 and $6.40. Gripsholm Castle, ridden by Victor Espinoza, paid $16.60 and $10.40. Floating Heart, with Joe Talamo aboard, paid $5.40 to show. The winning $1 trifecta was worth $1,557.30.

With McPeek traveling in South America, assistant Jordan Blair saddled Striking Dancer. “It’s not a surprise,” he said of the outcome. “This filly trains well on every surface she’s been on, dirt, turf, synthetic. She’s been a bad-luck filly. She’s had a lot of bad, troubled trips through nobody’s fault. But every time she gets clear, she wins, and she wins impressively every time she wins. We knew she had it in her, and she showed it today.”

Owned by Steve Kaplan of Cincinnati who races as Stevestan Stables, Striking Dancer earned $90,000 while becoming a graded stakes winner. The payday raised the Kentucky-bred chestnut’s career total to $206,097 from a 4-1-3 record.

A two-day carryover of $516,485 contributed to a total Pick Six pool of $2,377,847 by fourth race post time. There were five winning tickets, each worth $313,721. Monday’s Pick Six will cover races five through 10.

Santa Anita offers a 10-race holiday program on Monday’s Presidents’ Day while featuring a pair of Grade II stakes races, the $150,000 Buena Vista at one mile on turf and the $150,000 San Vicente Stakes for 3-year-olds at seven furlongs. First post is at 12:30 p.m.

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