HEAVILY FAVORED VASILIKA UNLEASHES FURIOUS STRETCH RALLY TO WIN GRADE III, $100,000 MEGAHERTZ STAKES BY 1 ½ LENGTHS; RIDDEN BY PRAT AND TRAINED BY HOLLENDORFER, SHE GETS MILE ON ‘GOOD’ TURF IN 1:34.82
ARCADIA, Calif. (Jan. 21, 2019)–Aided by some unexpected early pace pressure to the eventual runner-up, heavily favored Vasilika came rolling from off the pace to take Monday’s Grade III, $100,000 Megahertz Stakes by 1 ½ lengths under Flavien Prat. Trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, Vasilika, a miracle $40,000 claim 11 starts back, got a mile over a Santa Anita turf listed as “good” in 1:34.82.
An attentive fifth a half mile from home, Prat sat chilly as Joel Rosario, aboard La Sardane, went after pacesetter Ms Bad Behavior. Full of run while well within herself around the far turn, Vasilika rallied four-wide turning for home and ran down Ms Bad Behavior inside the sixteenth pole to win going away.
“When Drysdale’s filly (La Sardane) made that early move, it put pressure on Smith’s filly (Ms Bad Behavior and it helped me,” said Prat, who has now guided Vasilika to nine wins (four of them graded stakes) in her last 10 starts. “I didn’t want to be in a hurry, but she really picked it up and she finished well. I think a mile and one eighth might be her best (distance).”
A winner of eight consecutive races prior to finishing fourth as the 2-1 favorite in the Grade I Matriarch Stakes at one mile on turf Dec. 2 at Del Mar, Vasilika was off at 3-5 in a field of six older fillies and mares and paid $3.20, $2.20 and $2.10.
Claimed on Feb. 11 of last year, Vasilika, a 5-year-old mare by Skipshot who is out of the Marquetry mare La Belle, is owned by All Schlaich Stables, LLC, Hollendorfer, LLC, Gatto Racing, LLC and George Todaro, has now won nine out her 11 starts for her new connections and improved her overall resume to 29-14-4-3. With the winner’s share of $60,000, she now has earnings of $818,595.
“You know, you never expect this kind of thing to happen, but occasionally it does,” said Hollendorfer. “I hope she fits in our program, we did some extra work on her but you know, she’s blossomed into a very nice mare now. Flavien did his usual great job and got her out just in time. She ran them down and we can’t ask for more.”
Ms Bad Behavior, who bounced out to a 2 ½ length lead after the first quarter mile, relinquished the early advantage to La Sardane heading past the half mile pole while at the rail. Under clever handling from Smith, she was able to re-take the lead leaving the quarter pole and finished a head in front of Zaffinah in a huge effort.
Off as the third choice at 4-1, Ms Bad Behavior paid $3.20 and $3.00.
Irish-bred Zaffinah finished well from off the pace to be third, six lengths clear of La Sardane. Ridden by Rafael Bejarano, Zaffinah was the biggest price in the field at 36-1 and paid $4.40 to show.
Fractions on the race were 23.66, 47.29, 1:11.39 and 1:23.25.
Racing resumes on Friday at Santa Anita with first post time for a nine-race card at 12:30 p.m. For additional information, please visit santaanita.com or call (626) 574-RACE.