Sunday, January 15, 2012

Santa Ynez Stakes

Maiden winner Reneesgotzip literally burst into the graded stakes ranks Sunday with a scintillating 7 3/4-length romp in the 61st running of Santa Anita’s Grade II, $150,000 Santa Ynez Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at 6 ½ furlongs.

The daughter of City Zip, purchased by the Lanni Family Trust for $45,000 at sale last April, ran the distance in 1:15.25, a tick faster than when Face The Facts equaled the then track mark with a stakes-record 10 ½-length victory in the 1964 Santa Ynez.

No filly since 1964 has won the Santa Ynez by a wider margin than did Reneesgotzip. And the list includes such standouts as Golden Ballet (7 lengths in 2001), Fit To Lead (5 ½ in 1993), Goodbye Halo (5 in 1988) Very Subtle (4 ¼ in 1987) as well as the brilliant Terlingua (4 ¼ in 1979).

“This is a tremendous filly,” winning jockey Corey Nakatani said after dismounting from the Peter Miller-trainee. She had broken her maiden at Hollywood Park on Dec. 14 by 2 ¼ lengths while earning a topnotch Beyer Speed Figure of 98.

The maiden victory under Nakatani was so impressive that the public bet Reneesgotzip down to even money favoritism in a field that included Bob Baffert’s Candrea, runner-up in last fall’s Grade I Oak Leaf Stakes.

The chestnut filly swiftly took charge. She breezed through splits of 22.31 and 45.06. When a challenge was mounted turning into the stretch, Reneesgotzip burst clear. She covered six furlongs in 1:08.69. Reneesgotzip drifted well off the rail turning for home, but Nakatani straightened her up in short order and she was lengthening her lead at the end under his urging.

“She was a little green coming to the quarter pole today,” Nakatani said. “She shied and drifted out, so I shook her up right there and she responded. I’ve been getting on this horse in the morning for Pete (Miller) and she’s shown me every time what she can do.”

“She broke well again and she was up to the task,” said Miller. “I was surprised at how easy she won her first start. I thought she might have needed a race, but evidently she didn’t. She had shown a lot of ability, but not this kind of ability.”

The distant second-place finisher in the Santa Ynez was Made to Love Her, ridden by Rafael Bejarano. Painted Woman, with Mike Smith aboard, finished another length back in third. Candrea, the second-choice at 5-2, checked in fifth in the field of six.

The winner paid $4, $2.80 and $2.60. Made to Love Her returned $5.40 and $3.80. The show price on Painted Woman was $4.20. The winning purse of $90,000 boosted the earnings of Reneesgotzip to $117,000.

Miller did not pinpoint a next start for his rising star. “Eventually I definitely would like to stretch her out,” he said. “I think the way she relaxes and the way she has that nice turn of foot, I do think she will get two turns. I think that’s in the future. Whether it’s her next start or not, we’ll just kind of play it by ear.”

Before the day was over, Baffert gained a stakes victory when his Ellafitz cruised to a 4 ¾-length triumph in the $83,000 Paseana Handicap at 1 1/16 miles while going wire-to-wire with Martin Garcia in the saddle. She was clocked in 1:43.67.

The 5-2 second choice in a field of seven fillies and mares, the 5-year-old daughter of Tiznow recorded her second successive victory after taking Hollywood Park’s Grade II Bayakoa Handicap by 3 ¼ lengths on Dec. 4.

“Mr. Bob (Baffert) told me to just let her run,” said Garcia. “She just wants to run. She doesn’t want you to take hold of her. She’s been training great, and she’s run super in her last two races.”

“She’s been doing very well,” Baffert said. “This mare, you’ve just got to let her roll. Her only weapon is her speed. If you try to take her back, she’s just not the same horse. She either wins or runs last.”

Downhill Diva, the second longest price in the lineup, ran on for second under Brice Blanc to best Spirit Seeker and Joe Talamo by 4 ¾ lengths for the place. Vision in Gold, the 9-10 race favorite, wound up a well-beaten sixth.

Ellafitz raised her career earnings to $277,954 from a 5-2-2 record in 13 starts for D. and E. Racing. She paid $7.40, $4.40 and $3.60. The mutuels on Downhill Diva were $12.80 and $8.20. Spirit Seeker paid $6.40 to show.

Jeranimo is the even-money morning line favorite for Monday’s Grade II, $150,000 San Gabriel Stakes at 1 1/8 miles. The turf event heads a nine-race holiday program on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. First post is at 12:30 p.m.

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