Saturday, May 18, 2024

Adare Manor earns another Santa Anita victory

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It was nothing more than a stroll through the park for Adare Manor on Saturday in the $200,000 Santa Margarita Stakes at Santa Anita.

The 4-year-old Uncle Mo filly, ridden by Juan Hernandez and trained by Bob Baffert, went gate to wire while setting easy fractions of 24.20, 48.47 and 1:12.12. She completed the mile and an eighth over the main track in 1:49.17 while winning by 4 1/2 lengths.

“She moves really smooth,” said Hernandez, who guided the winner to her third consecutive victory while winning his Hollywood Meet-leading 10th stakes race. “She just takes me there. I just let her go and you don’t feel anything because she was just galloping and moving really smooth. She is really fun.”

Adare Manor, named for the five-star luxury hotel in Adare, Ireland, came into the Santa Margarita off a victory in the Grade II Santa Maria Stakes on April 29 at Santa Anita after taking an optional claimer at Santa Anita on March 31. She’s won five of 11 starts for $621,600 in earnings and has finished first or second in all eight of her starts at Santa Anita.

The winner, who’s now won three graded stakes, took the lead right out of the gate as the 1-5 favorite in the race for older fillies and mares. She was tracked from second by Desert Dawn, who beat Adare Manor in the Santa Anita Oaks in April, much of the way before scooting away at the head of the stretch and toying with her four rivals the rest of the way.

Former Chicago Bears great Dick Butkus presented the trophy to the winning connections after the race and marveled at the athleticism of the jockeys.

“Everybody wonders how a little guy of that size can control a big animal like that,” he said. “If you watch them, they don’t hit that saddle. They may sit in that saddle when they get in the gates, but after that it isn’t until they get to the winner’s circle that they get to sit down again. If you can imagine doing squats for whatever the amount of time the horse runs the route, I mean it is brutal on your legs. You gotta hand it to these guys, they have to be in shape.”

Kirstenbosch, a 12-1 longshot, finished second, 2 1/2 lengths in front of second favorite Desert Dawn (5-2). Smoothlikebuttah and Tiz a Macho Girl completed the order of finish.

HONEYMOON STAKES

Selenaia, the 5-2 second choice trained by Jonathan Thomas, tracked pacesetter Fast and Shiny from fourth much of the way, made a bold move under jockey Joe Bravo into the far turn and drew away for a 3 1/4-length victory in the $100,000 Grade III turf race for 3-year-old fillies.

Bred in Ireland, the daughter of Sea The Moon won for the third time in four starts while hiking her career bankroll to $106,230. Since losing her debut at Saratoga by 13 1/2 lengths last summer after hitting the gate at the start, Selenaia has proved unbeatable. She’s won her past three starts while improving her Beyer Speed Figure each time. The Honeymoon was her first stakes victory.

“Jonathan just has her (on the improve),” Bravo said. “She just keeps getting better. I’m excited to see what more she has in store.”

Broadway Girls finished second, 2 1/4 lengths in front of Paris Secret, the 9-5 favorite. Final time for the 1 1/8 miles was 1:48.18.

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