Kinza impressive in the Las Virgenes (Ernie Belmonte/Past The Wire)
BAFFERT’S KINZA IN COMMAND THROUGHOUT & TAKES GRADE III, $100,000 LAS VIRGENES STAKES BY TWO LENGTHS WHILE GETTING MILE IN 1:37.03
RACE SERVES AS PREP TO BOTH THE SANTA ANITA & KENTUCKY OAKS
Mike Willman/Santa Anita Press Box
ARCADIA, Calif.— Hammered late to even money favoritism, Bob Baffert’s Kinza, although pressed throughout, would not be denied as she posted an impressive gate-to-wire victory in Saturday’s Grade III, $100,000 Las Virgenes Stakes at Santa Anita, winning by two lengths with Juan Hernandez up while getting one mile in 1:37.03.
In only her second start, Kinza darted to the early lead with Grade III winner Kopion in close attendance around the first turn and up the backside. Although Kopion loomed ominously, getting to the hip of the winner around the far turn, Kopion could never get on terms as Kinza maintained a two length advantage late en route to a solid win.
A 7 ½ length first-out maiden winner going six furlongs here on Dec. 29, Kinza was the clear choice in a field of five sophomore fillies and paid $4.00, $2.20 and $2.10.
A $350,000 2-year-old in training sale purchase last May, Kinza, who is owned by Michael Lund Petersen, is by Carpe Diem out of the Quality Road mare Secret Wonder. With the winner’s share of $60,000, she increased her earnings to $99,000.
The Las Virgenes, a traditional prep to the Grade II Santa Anita Oaks April 6, is also a points qualifier to the Grade I Kentucky Oaks May 3.
Ridden by Flavien Prat, Kopion, who was stretching out for the first time as well off an impressive 5 ¾ length score in the Grade III Santa Ynez on Jan. 7, kept to her task in game fashion and finished 1 ½ lengths in front of She’s a Tempest. Off at 6-5, Kopion paid $2.60 and $2.10.
Off at 16-1 with Tiago Pereira up, She’s a Tempest sat third the entire trip and paid $3.00 to show while finishing some 9 ¼ lengths in front of Nothing Like You.
Fractions on the race were 22.99, 46.91, 1:10.82 and 1:23.35.
JUAN HERNANDEZ, KINZA, WINNER: “This filly she has a lot of talent. She broke on top. Last time she showed a lot of speed. Today, it was a faster pace but she handled it pretty good. I felt like I was putting in a really good pace. My feeling was that she was really comfortable in front. I never asked her to go that fast she was doing it all on her own. I think that was the key to win the race, that she was comfortable the whole race. When I asked her at the quarter pole, she picked it up, so I think she is a really nice filly.”
JIMMY BARNES, ASSISTANT TO BOB BAFFERT, KINZA, WINNER: “She acts like a filly that can handle (two turns). You don’t know until you do it, but she had shown in the morning, in her workouts that she could go further. I was more concerned there was so much speed, with the small field and a lot of speed. Unfortunately, our other filly (Nothing Like You) she’s got speed, but she was on the rail and she doesn’t have that kind of speed, so she had to kind of take back and make some kind of trip and she probably doesn’t want to do that.”