TEDDY’S PROMISE STUNS AT 16-1 IN GRADE I LA BREA STAKES WITH DOMINANT WIN AS 1-2 CHOICE TURBULENT DESCENT FINISHES SIXTH

ARCADIA, Calif. (Dec. 31, 2011) – Teddy’s Promise, a California-bred daughter of Salt Lake who previously had been walloped by a combined 65 ¼ lengths in three relatively minor stakes tries, turned Santa Anita’s Grade I La Brea Stakes for 3-year-old fillies on its ear Saturday.

Not only did she record a stunning 16-1 upset in the prestigious $300,000 event after coming off a pair of optional claiming event victories, Teddy’s Promise did it with authority under jockey Victor Espinoza. The winning margin over Sugarinthemorning was 2 ¼ lengths. The final time was a sprightly 1:20.47.

And in the process, Teddy’s Promise dashed whatever hope 1-2 favorite Turbulent Descent might have had of winning an Eclipse Award as champion female sprinter of 2011. The three-time Grade I winner made little impact while winding up sixth in the field of nine.

Since being turned over to trainer Ron Ellis by owners Ed and Judy Nichols, Teddy’s Promise has steadily blossomed. “The last time she ran, I really liked her,” Espinoza said in the La Brea Stakes winner’s circle. “Today, I thought she was ready, and I thought she would like it better over here on the dirt. I had so much horse today I wasn’t expecting anybody to come near me. She’s a runner.”

“It’s hard to be very confident against Turbulent Descent, but I knew she was doing great” said Ellis. “I actually asked the owners if they wanted to scratch and run tomorrow (Teddy’s Promise also was nominated to Sunday’s $75,000 Kalookan Queen Handicap) because I knew we could win tomorrow, but they wanted to go for the big show, and I couldn’t argue with them.”

The winner stalked early leaders Home Sweet Aspen and California Nectar. She assumed command at the quarter pole. Espinoza never used his whip. Teddy’s Command dominated under an energetic hand ride.

Sugarinthemorning, also sent off at odds of 16-1 while ridden by Garrett Gomez, finished 1 ¾ lengths ahead of third-place Great Hot at 8-1 with Chantal Sutherland aboard. Some unusual payoffs resulted with Turbulent Descent off the board. Teddy’s Promise paid $35, $14.20 and $21.20. Sugarinthemorning returned $14.40 and $25.80. The show price on Great Hot was $11.40.

The winning purse of $180,000 exceeded the previous earnings of Teddy’s Promise in 12 races: $170,808. Her total bankroll became $350,808 from a 5-2-1 mark in 13 starts.

Mike Puype, who trains Turbulent Descent, acknowledged that his six-time winner did not break alertly. “She was behind a little further than normal,” he said, “and behind all the field. She had to circle everyone and went wide. I mean really wide. But she still didn’t kick it in, and the track’s very fast so it’s hard to make up that ground once you’re in that position. She didn’t kick it in like she’s capable of, so I’ll just have to go over her well physically and see where we’re at.”

“This was a rough trip, what can I say?” commented David Flores, the regular rider of Turbulent Descent. “The horse felt great, but it was too much to make up.”

Chips All In, a $4,500 sales purchase who had won his first three starts before losing by a head, registered an 11-1 upset in the day’s supporting feature, the $75,000 Eddie Logan Stakes for 2-year-olds at one mile on turf.

Ridden by Alonso Quinonez, Chips All In tracked the early pace set by Champions Gate, took the lead entering the stretch and staved off the rally of runner-up Sheer Talent by 1 ¼ lengths. The winning time was 1:34.86.

Stoney Fleece, the 3-1 second choice who had run fifth in the California Breeders’ Championship Stakes on Santa Anita’s main track five days before, finished third, a half-length back of the runner-up in the field of nine. Daddy Nose Best, the 9-10 favorite, was never a factor, finishing fifth.

Trained by Jeff Mullins for the partnership of Gene Everest, John O’Brien and Daniel Valdez, Chips All In had won his first three starts at tracks ranging from Golden Gate to Del Mar to Arapahoe Park in Colorado where he won the $100,000 Gold Rush Futurity. He subsequently suffered his only setback in the Golden Nugget Stakes at Golden Gate. The Eddie Logan was his first start on turf.

“We always kind of thought he would take to the grass,” said Mullins. “He had breezed good on it. But he was out of conditions, so we didn’t have any other choice. He made us look good.”

“My horse was just galloping around there,” Quinonez said. “I knew the leader was going really easy, so I didn’t want him to get the jump on me. I knew Gomez (Garrett, on Sheer Talent) was right behind me going to the far turn and I didn’t want to let him push me out, so I had to hold my position. When we turned for home, he put himself in the race, and when I hit him left-handed, he re-broke. It was a great way to finish the year.”

The winner paid $25.20, $11.40 and $6. Sheer Talent paid $7.80 and $5.60. Stoney Fleece, ridden by Corey Nakatani, paid $3.40 to show. The winning purse of $47,400 increased the earnings of Chips All In to $149,800.

The Eddie Logan was named in memory of the iconic figure who operated a shoe shine stand outside Santa Anita’s racing office from the day the track opened on Christmas Day, 1934 until shortly before his death at the age of 98 on Jan. 31, 2009.

On New Year’s Day Sunday, Santa Anita presents a nine-race program starting at 12:30 p.m. The eighth-race feature is the Grade II, $150,000 Robert J. Frankel Stakes for fillies and mares at 1 1/8 miles on turf. City to City is the 5-2 morning line favorite. A supporting feature, the $75,000 Kalookan Queen Handicap for fillies and mares at 6 ½ furlongs, will be contested as the fifth race.

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