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FRONT-RUNNING BIRDLOVER TAKES $70,000 CHINA DOLL
ARCADIA, Calif. (March 9, 2013)—Breaking from post position eight in a 12-horse field, longshot Birdlover was sent to the lead by Edwin Maldonado and was never seriously challenged, taking Saturday’s $70,000 China Doll Stakes by 1 ½ lengths while negotiating one mile on a turf course listed as “good” in 1:35.23.
Run as Saturday’s eighth race, the China Doll immediately followed the day’s main event, the Grade II, $300,000 San Felipe Stakes.
“Well, we were hoping to get an easy lead (with highly regarded Goldencents) in the seventh race, but it didn’t happen,” said winning trainer Doug O’Neill. “This is a nice filly…and it was a wide-open race. Edwin was able to kind of ‘walk the dog’ out there through easy fractions, and he had enough left to kick on.”
Off at 10-1, English-bred Birdlover carved out splits of 23.09, 47.75, 1:11.76 and 1:23.47.
Owned by Robert Cseplo, Steve Keh, Daniel Kramer and W.C. Racing, she paid $22.80, $11.20 and $7.60. A maiden stakes winner in England on Oct. 18, Birdlover was a close fourth in her U.S. debut, the Grade III, one mile turf Miesque Stakes at Betfair Hollywood Park on Nov. 24.
Second in two subsequent allowance races, Birdlover notched her second career win in the China Doll to go along with three seconds from seven starts. With the winner’s share of $44,160, she more than doubled her earnings to $84,781.
“Doug told me to go to the lead and if somebody wants to go out there like a rabbit, let them have the lead,” said Maldonado. “Nobody fought me. It was a perfect race.”
Magnificent Shirl, off at 8-1 with Tyler Baze, broke from the rail, saved ground early and swung out turning for home to finish second, a half length in front of 99-1 shot Akiss Forarose and Orlando Mojica.
Magnificent Shirl paid $11.00 and $7.20.
Akiss Forarose rallied from far off the pace to finish a half length in front of Flashy Ways and Joe Talamo. Akiss Forarose paid $21.20 to show.
Sarach, ridden by Rafael Bejarano, was never a factor and finished fifth.
The Grade III, $100,000 Las Flores Stakes highlights a nine-race program at Santa Anita on Sunday, with first post time at 12:30 p.m.