Alice Marble Rolls in Irish O’Brien

March 17, 2023

Favored Alice Marble defeats fellow Alexander Homebred Rose Maddox by 1 ¼ lengths to take the $100,000 Irish O’Brien Stakes (Ernie Belmonte/Past The Wire)

Race Is Part Of Lucrative CTBA-Sponsored Golden State Series

Mike Willman/Santa Anita Press Box

ARCADIA, Calif.— It’s St. Patrick’s Day at Santa Anita, so in addition to corned beef, cabbage, and a green beer or two, fans can always expect to be treated to the $100,000 Irish O’Brien Stakes, which is traditionally run at about 6 ½ furlongs down the hillside turf course. However, due to a spate of recent wet weather, 

Friday’s Irish O’Brien was conducted at 6 ½ furlongs on the main track and in a race reduced by a pair of scratches to four older fillies and mares, heavily favored Alice Marble did not disappoint, as she sped to a 1 ¼ length victory over troubled a troubled Rose Maddox, giving owner-breeder Nick Alexander the Irish O’Brien exacta.

Trained by Phil D’Amato and ridden by Flavien Prat, Alice Marble, a 6-year-old California-bred mare by Grazen, got the distance over a fast track in 1:16.95.

The Irish O’Brien is part of the lucrative CTBA-sponsored Golden State Series for eligible California-bred or sired horses. 

With longshot Feeling Grazeful showing the way from her rail post to the far turn, Prat and Alice Marble moved along to her outside leaving the three-furlong pole with eventual third-place finisher Taming the Tigress three-deep approaching the quarter pole. Mid-way on the turn, Rose Maddox, who was full of run while a close fourth under Hector Berrios, steadied sharply as she tried to find room at the rail, forcing her to drop back and loop the field turning for home.

Although there was trouble behind her, Alice Marble went on about her business through the stretch drive under aggressive handling, garnering her second consecutive stakes win and her fourth overall.

“Just coming off a nice dirt stake win definitely welcomed the dirt. In small fields like this, they are going to race ride you as much as they can, and they did, said D’Amato. “Edwin (aboard Feeling Grazeful) went up there on the lead, and Umberto (aboard Taming the Tigress) was on the outside trying to put the pressure on early, and Flavien just stayed composed as always. Nick (Alexander’s) other horse (Rose Maddox) ran really good. Fortunate to have the Grazen exacta.

A winner of the six-furlong Spring Fever Stakes versus statebreds here on Feb. 19, Alice Marble was off at 2-5 and paid $2.80 and $2.20 with no show wagering.

“This mare always shows up,” said Prat, who notched his ninth stakes win of the meet. “She’s really cool to ride, and she does everything right. She ran her race again today.”

D’Amato said, “I keep wanting to stretch her out, the last two times I’ve run her, Flavien says, ‘Please stretch her out.’ So, I gotta find some race long to take a shot in. She’s got that nice tactical speed and can kind of carry it. I think she’d appreciate the two turns.” 

By Grazen out of the More Than Ready mare Unsung Heroine, Alice Marble bagged $60,000, increasing her earnings to $470,880 while improving her overall race record to 15-7-2-3.

“I was actually focused on ‘Rose’ and she had to take up pretty seriously, I think it spoke well for her,” said Alexander. “I think she (Rose Maddox) has a bright future. It is just a relief that we beat (Taming the Tigress), I didn’t want to run three Grazens behind her (trainer Anthony Saavedra’s Feeling Grazful included) That worked out well.

“I’m just a very lucky guy that Grazen came along. He was bred almost by convenience. We bred his (dam) to Benchmark, just because it was a 15-minute van ride versus five hours for the other choice…(Grazen) has changed the game for me.”

For her part, Rose Maddox, who is trained by Steve Miyadi, ran a terrific race in defeat, finishing 2 ¼ lengths in front of Taming the Tigress. Off at 9-2, Rose Maddox paid $2.80 to place.

Fractions on the race were 22.36, 45.56 and 1:10.34.

First post time for an 11-race card on Saturday is at 12:30 p.m. with admission gates opening at 10:30 a.m.

Boom Boom @jonathanstettin does it again. Exacta tri and super race 5. Webinar strikes again! @PastTheWire

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