Elm Drive clears the field to win the Mizdirection under Ramon Vazquez (Ernie Belmonte/Past The Wire)
Santa Anita Press Box
ARCADIA, Calif.— In her first-ever try on turf, Phil D’Amato’s Elm Drive handled the assignment with aplomb as she sat close to the early pace and went on to a decisive 1 ¼ length score in Saturday’s $100,000 Mizdirection Stakes at Santa Anita. Ridden by Ramon Vazquez, who bagged his third winner on the card, Elm Drive got about 6 ½ furlongs down the hillside course in 1:13.23.
Fresh off a similar score in the Grade III Monrovia Stakes, that was transferred from the hill to the main track at 6 ½ furlongs, Elm Drive broke like a shot from her number five post position, but allowed Freedom Flyer to come up on her inside and take a narrow lead as they headed to the half mile pole.
Second, a half length off the lead at the quarter pole, Elm Drive took charge three sixteenths of a mile from home and was never threatened thereafter.
“She’s trained well on the training track here since I brought her over from Los Alamitos,” said D’Amato. “Usually, that (method of operation) translates to running well on the grass and we got our opportunity to try it today and it worked out.
“Going those slow fractions (22.88, 45.37 and 1:07.39), it looked like we had a lot of horse. When Ramon asked her, she exploded.”
Off at 5-1 in a field of seven older fillies and mares, Elm Drive paid $13.40, $7.60 and $3.60.
A 4-year-old Kentucky-bred filly by Mohaymen out of the Indian Charlie mare Lets Dance Charlie, Elm Drive, who was a Grade II winner in her second start at age two, now has three stakes victories and is 10-5-0-1 overall. With today’s winner’s share of $60,000, she increased her earnings to $408,140.
“I knew she had been working very nice and today, she broke sharp and then we were able to sit very comfortable,” said Vazquez, who was aboard for her win in the Monrovia as well. “She showed up, she’s a nice filly.”
Well off the early pace, Honey Pants, under Umberto Rispoli, made a nice late run and finished second, 1 ¼ lengths in front of favored Big Summer. Off at 8-1, Honey Pants paid $7.60 and $4.00.
Ridden by Joe Bravo and the lone California-bred in the field, Big Summer was never a factor at even money and paid $2.40 to show.
One Silk Stocking was a late scratch at the gate.
First post time for an eight-race card on Sunday is at 1 p.m. with admission gates opening at 11 a.m.
RAMON VAZQUEZ, ELM DRIVE, WINNER: “I knew that she had been working very nice and today, she broke sharp, then, we were able to sit very comfortable. She showed up, she’s a nice filly.”
PHILIP D’ AMATO, ELM DRIVE, WINNER: “She’s trained so well on the training track here since I brought her over from Los Alamitos. Usually, that (method of operation) translates to running well on the grass and we got our opportunity to try it today and it worked out. Going those slow fractions, it looked like we had a lot of horse. When Ramon asked her, she exploded.”
NOTES: The winning owner is Little Red Feather Racing.