HEAVILY FAVORED VASILIKA TAKES GRADE II, $200,000 ROYAL HEROINE STAKES BY 2 ¾ LENGTHS AS PRAT & HOLLENDORFER TEAM FOR MILE TURF WIN IN 1:33.53
ARCADIA, Calif. (April 6, 2019)–One of the best claims of all-time, trainer Jerry Hollendorfer’s Vasilika became racing’s newest millionaire with an authoritative 2 ¾ length win in Saturday’s Grade II, $200,000 Royal Heroine Stakes at Santa Anita. Handled by her regular partner Flavien Prat, the 5-year-old Skipshot mare got a mile on turf in 1:33.53.
Attentive to the early pace, Vasilika was third, about a length off the lead turning for home and quickly kicked clear of Cordiality and Smoovie while easily keeping runner-up Meal Ticket at bay late. A winner of 10 of her 13 starts since being claimed 14 races ago for $40,000 on Feb. 11, 2018, Vasilika, who came off an impressive win in the Grade II, one mile turf Buena Vista Stakes Feb. 23, was off as the 1-5 favorite in a field of seven older fillies and mares and paid $2.60, $2.10 and $2.10.
“We broke fine at the rail,” said Prat. “We changed our strategy when I saw Mike (Smith, aboard second choice, Ms Bad Behavior) was out of the race on the first turn and I went to plan B. I can never do anything wrong with this mare. No matter what I do, she covers me. She is definitely something special.”
Owned by All Schlaich Stables, LLC, Hollendorfer, LLC, Gatto Racing, LLC and George Todaro, Vasilika, who is out of the Marquetry mare La Belle Marquet, notched her sixth graded stakes win and with the winner’s share of $120,000, she now has earnings of $1,058,595.
“I talked to Flavien a little bit before the race and I told him if ‘You wanted to do something a little different, I didn’t mind.’ I think he was a little nervous about being back (off the pace) today, so he kept her a little closer and it worked anyway. She’s doing good right now, that’s for sure.”
(It was the second stakes win on the day for Hollendorfer, who won the Cal-bred Evening Jewel earlier and for Prat, who guided Bellafina to victory in the Grade I Santa Anita Oaks).
Ridden by Drayden Van Dyke, Meal Ticket rallied well for the place, finishing 1 ¼ lengths in front of Space Talk. Off at 24-1, Meal Ticket paid $8.40 and $6.20.
English-bred Space Talk, who was far back early, was easily third, finishing 1 ¼ lengths in front of Raven’s Lady. Off at 41-1 with Rafael Bejarano, Space Talk paid $4.20 to show.
Ms Bad Behavior, who was eased after breaking on top under Smith from her number two post position, appeared to bolt heading into the Club House turn, but Smith refuted that observation.
“No, she didn’t bolt,” he said. “I just didn’t like the way she was moving. I’d rather be safe than sorry.”
Fractions on the race were 22.99, 46.31, 1:09.66 and 1:21.69.