PONTCHATRAIN TAKES GRADE II BUENA VISTA, STEVENS & PROCTOR TEAM FOR ONE LENGTH VICTORY AS WAR FRONT FILLY WINS FOURTH IN-A-ROW

MASSIVE TOTAL PICK SIX POOL OF $1,349,508 PRODUCES 12 WINNERS WORTH $65,197.20

ARCADIA, Calif. (Feb. 17, 2014)—A winner of three consecutive stakes going 6 ½ furlongs down Santa Anita’s hillside turf course, the Tom Proctor-trained Pontchatrain stretched out in style Monday, winning the Grade II, $200,000 Buena Vista Stakes by a length under Gary Stevens, getting one mile on grass in 1:33.33.

Off as the second choice at 5-2 in a field of 10 older fillies and mares, Pontchatrain sat a comfortable third just in behind longshot Miss Serendipity and 2-1 favorite Egg Drop, and swung three-wide turning for home to win as best.

“I was hoping we would get the trip we did,” said Stevens, who registered his sixth added-money win of the meet. “Tom has done such a good job preparing this filly for this race. With a filly like her, you can get a perfect trip. She has good gate speed. Those races down the hill for fillies that are tough to handle, it changes their whole mind set.

“She relaxed for me and we just brought it home. If she keeps relaxing for me we can go even further with her…If not, she’s (already) a great miler.”

A 4-year-old filly by War Front, Pontchatrain was bred in Kentucky by Lavin Bloodstock and Kenowa Stable and is owned by Glen Hill Farm. She paid $7.00, $3.60 and $3.00.

“I just told Gary to ride her and be comfortable, and it looked like he was in a very comfortable spot,” said Proctor. “Egg Drop was coming off a hard race. We might have caught her not at her best.”

When asked what might be next for Pontchatrain, the fun-loving Proctor responded, “Life’s very short. You don’t plan ahead.”

In winning her sixth race from eight starts, Pontchatrain banked $120,000, increasing her overall earnings to $444,882.

Egg Drop, who had won three consecutive graded stakes, most recently the Grade I Matriarch Stakes Dec. 1, was handled by her regular pilot, Martin Garcia. She sat a close second through fractions of 23.47, 46.95, 1:10.06 and 1:21.73, put away Miss Serendipity to her inside three sixteenths of a mile out but couldn’t hold off the winner to her outside.

“We got beat by a really good horse,” said Garcia. “My filly was running easy, but I could see when the winner came to us that she was full of run. My filly tried to fight back. We just got beat by a better horse today.”

Egg Drop finished second, a head in front of a fast closing Tapicat, and paid $3.20 and $2.40.

A minor stakes winner going 7 ½ furlongs on turf Jan. 1 at Gulfstream, Tapicat was full of run around the far turn in fourth position under John Velazquez and rallied well through the drive to finish 1 ¼ lengths in front of pacesetting Miss Serendipity.

Trained by Bill Mott, Tapicat was off at 7-2 and paid $3.20 to show.

“It feels great to be here, great to be back and I wish we would have won but she ran very well,” said Velazquez, who hadn’t ridden at Santa Anita since being injured on Breeders’ Cup Classic Day, Nov. 2. “Any time you get the opportunity to come out here with a nice horse, it’s an easy decision. I knew I wanted to ride her. When the races fit, you have to take the chance and hope it works out.”

With a carryover from Sunday of $119,278, more than $1.2 million was bet in today’s Pick Six, creating a total pool of $1,349,508. There were 12 winning tickets, each worth $65,197.20.

Racing resumes at Santa Anita on Thursday, with first post time at 1 p.m. Admission gates open at 11 a.m.