INGLEWOOD, Calif. (July 3, 2011)—A cut back to her favorite distance proved the winning move for Celtic Princess in the $150,000 Royal Heroine Mile Monday at Hollywood Park.
Despite a less-than auspicious start from the outside post in the field of six fillies and mares, Celtic Princess was quickly positioned directly outside pacesetter Givine by jockey Rafael Bejarano.
In the final eighth of a mile in the Grade II, the 7-year-old Brazilian bred daughter of Public Purse and the Formal Dinner mare Exotic Dinner asserted her superiority over the early leader, kicking away to win by 2 ¼ lengths as the 17-10 favorite.
Trained by A.C. Avila for owner-breeder Jessica Coudelaria, Celtic Princess won for the sixth time in 15 starts and pushed her bankroll to $330,624. It was the first graded win in the United States for Celtic Princess, who won two Group I races and a Group II in 2007 in her native country.
Defeated by a head by Dubawi Heights in the Grade I Gamely at nine furlongs in her 2011 debut May 30, Celtic Princess won for the fourth time in six starts at one mile.
Favored for the first time since she finished fifth in an optional claimer Jan. 28, 2010 at Gulfstream Park, Celtic Princess paid $5.40, $3 and $2.40.
Making her first start since Feb. 13 at Santa Anita, Harmonious finished fast to be second after trailing for seven of the eight furlongs. It was the first defeat in four races on the Hollywood Park turf for the Dynaformer filly, who won the Grade I American Oaks here last July 3.
Ridden by Joel Rosario, Harmonious returned $3.40 and $2.60. Andina, who wound up 1 ¼ lengths behind Harmonious, was up in the final strides to gain third by a nose over Givine. The show payoff on Andina was $3.40.
Completing the order of finish were Late Cuddle and Wild Mia.
“She’s really good,’’ said Bejarano after his eighth stakes win of the Spring/Summer meet, second behind Joel Rosario’s 11. “The last time was the first time I rode her and she probably should have won.
“She didn’t have an excuse, but she ran really well and showed me a big kick in the stretch. In the gate, I loaded last and then the guy in the gate was holding her trying to keep her straight.
“But, just then, the gate opened and she chewed the bit a little bit and threw her head. I didn’t try to fight her, I just left her alone.’’
Rosario was encouraged with the return of the runner-up.
“I’m really happy with her race today,’’ he said. “The winner is a good horse, too. She came back well and I know (trainer) John (Shirreffs) was happy. We’re hoping she stays sound for the big races later in the year.’’
Avila said Coudelaria recently paid the $25,000 nomination fee to get Celtic Princess Breeders’ Cup eligible. He also said the mare could return in either the $750,000 Beverly D Aug. 13 at Arlington Park or the $250,000 John C. Mabee the following day at Del Mar.
One race before the Royal Heroine, trainer Bob Baffert increased his lead in the trainer standings when Glamorista, a 4-year-old daughter of Unbridled’s Song, cruised to a 6 ¼ length victory in her debut for Thoroughbred Legends Racing Stable LLC.
The win was the 32nd for Baffert, putting him seven clear of Mike Mitchell with eight days remaining in the Spring/Summer meet. Additionally, the impressive win enabled Baffert to reach a significant milestone.
The victory was the 500th locally for the Hall of Famer, enabling him to become only the eighth trainer to reach the figure at Hollywood Park. He joined Bobby Frankel, Charlie Whittingham, Mitchell, Ron McAnally, Richard Mandella, John Sadler and Mel Stute. Frankel leads with 952 wins.
Racing resumes Thursday. Post time is 1 p.m.
The Hollywood Park Casino will be open for dark day simulcasts Tuesday and Wednesday. Admission is free.
Entries will be taken Wednesday for the $500,000 Hollywood Gold Cup, which will be run for the 72nd time Saturday.
Owned by breeder Jenny Craig’s Family Trust, William S. Farish and Marty Wygod, Twirling Candy, the 122-pound highweight, is expected to face, among others, Santa Anita Handicap winner Game On Dude, First Dude, Setsuko, Aggie Engineer, the mare Miss Match and Kentucky shipper Dark Cove.
The Gold Cup will be televised on ESPN (4-5 p.m. PDT). Scheduled post time for the Gold Cup, which is the eighth of 10 races, is 4:40 p.m.
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