Grazed My Heart Gets the Nose in Leigh Ann Howard Cal Cup Oaks

January 7, 2023

Grazed My Heart (outside) gets up in time in the Cal Cup Oaks (Ernie Belmonte/Past The Wire)

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Mike Willman/Santa Anita Press Box

ARCADIA, Calif.— In an agonizingly tight finish, the Jeff Mullins-trained Grazed My Heart was up to win Saturday’s $200,000 Leigh Ann Howard California Cup Oaks by a nose, giving jockey Hector Berrios his second stakes win on Cal Cup Day at Santa Anita.  A 3-year-old filly by Grazen, Grazed My Heart got one mile on turf in 1:37.41.

Last, about seven lengths off pacesetter and eventual runner-up Sell the Dream three furlongs out, Grazed My Heart hugged the rail around the turn, angled three-deep at the furlong pole and managed to get up in time.

“The pace was a little slow, and I felt that she needed more speed. I tried to relax and wait inside until there was a little clearance. When I moved her, she responded,” Berrios remarked.

“I didn’t know if I had won or not, and I had to keep looking at the big TV! It was a beautiful day for me today to get those two wins.”

Claimed out of a second-place finish for maiden $50,000 four starts back on Aug. 19 at Del Mar, Grazed My Heart was most recently second going one mile on dirt in the statebred Soviet Problem Stakes at Los Alamitos Dec. 11.

“At the three-eighths pole what was going through my mind was, you have a lot of work to do buddy and at about that time here she comes. I could see she had a big run in her and all she needed was room to get through. I was trying to watch through my binoculars and watch live, when she hit the wire, I just said, ‘We got it.’ But it’s hard to tell when it is that close.” said Mullins.

Grazed My Heart, winner! (Ernie Belmonte/Past The Wire)

“This guy (Hector Berrios) just puts horses in good spots and gets a lot of run out of them. He’s just a great guy.”

Off at 5-1 today, she paid $13.80, $5.40 and $3.20.

Out of the Scat Daddy mare Daddy’s Duo, Grazed My Heart was bred in California by Cicero Farms, LLC and the Batchelor Family Trust. 

Owned in part by former trainer Mark Cofer and his wife Patricia, along with the Webb Family Trust, Grazed My Heart collected $110,000 for the Oaks victory, increasing her earnings to $198,020 from an overall mark of 7-2-3-1.

“We never imagined anything like this would happen when we claimed the filly. Our partners on this horse, Keith and Priscilla, I’ve known since I was in diapers. My father trained horses for Priscilla 50 plus years ago. She’s 96 now. The day this filly broke her maiden here was her 96th birthday,” recounted Mark Cofer.  

“So, it has been a Godsend and it’s just amazing. I give all the credit to Jeff Mullins and his team. They’ve done a fantastic job with this filly, and it’s exciting.”

The 6-5 favorite with Flavien Prat, frontrunning Sell the Dream finished a half-length in front of Cast Member and paid $3.00 and $2.20.

Ridden by John Velazquez, Cast Member was able to tuck into third position from her outside post and was lapped on the favorite around the first turn, got on terms a quarter mile from home and stayed well through the drive to finish 1 ½ lengths in front of longshot Golden Again.

Off at 7-2, Cast Member paid $3.00 to show.

Fractions on the race were 23.62, 47.94, 1:12.36 and 1:24.57.

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