Longshot Keeper Ofthe Stars Takes Grade II, $200,000 Buena Vista Stakes By A Half Length Over Heavily Favored Jolie Olimpica As Wong & Cedillo Team For Mile On Turf In 1:34.15
ARCADIA, Calif. (Feb. 22, 2020)–Heavily favored Jolie Olimpica tired late and longshot Keeper Ofthe Stars took full advantage, as she altered tactics today and rallied under Abel Cedillo to a half length victory in Saturday’s Grade II, $200,000 Buena Vista Stakes at Santa Anita. Trained by Jonathan Wong, the 4-year-old daughter of Midnight Lute got a flat mile on turf in 1:34.15.
As expected, Jolie Olimpica, fresh off an impressive win in the Grade III Las Cienegas Stakes at 5 ½ furlongs on turf, shot straight to the lead into the first turn, with Keeper ofthe Stars settling into fourth, about a length and a half off the lead in a field of nine older fillies and mares.
Second, a half length off the lead turning for home, Keeper ofthe Stars easily overhauled Jolie Olimpica en route to her second graded stakes win.
“I thought if we could get her to relax off the pace today, she could make one run,” said Cedillo, who had ridden her in her last four starts. “I got her back going into the first turn and she relaxed really good. The distance was perfect and she finished really strong.”
Most recently sixth, beaten three lengths after leading early in the Grade III Megahertz Stakes at one mile on turf here Jan. 20, Keeper ofthe Stars was off at 36-1 and paid $74.20, $14.80 and $6.00.
Owned by Tommy Town Thoroughbreds, LLC, Keeper ofthe Stars, whose last win came in the Grade III Autumn Miss Stakes four stars back on Oct. 26, picked up $120,000 for the win, increasing her earnings to $321,931 while improving her overall mark to 14-6-1-3.
“When Tom and Debi (Stull) from Tommy Town Thoroughbreds gave her to me, it felt like the best horse we have ever had,” said Wong. “We thought she would come from off the pace. She is better when she has something to chase and when she on the outside and clear, because she has such a long stride (and) it takes her a while to get going.”
As for Jolie Olimpica, a 4-year-old Brazilian-bred who had been so impressive in winning the Las Cienegas, she tried hard but had little to offer late, checking in second, a half length better than Mucho Unusual. Off at 3-5, Jolie Olimpica, who was ridden by Mike Smith, paid $3.00 and $2.20.
“Going from a sprint to a route today, she just didn’t relax,” said Smith, who had ridden her in her U.S. debut. “She was pulling and when she does that, she’s not breathing the way she needs to.”
Ridden by Joel Rosario, California-bred Mucho Unusual was the second betting choice at 4-1 and paid $3.00 to show while finishing 1 ½ lengths in front of Lady Prancealot.
Fractions on the race were 23.23, 46.49, 1:10.24 and 1:22.30.