Ernie Belmonte/Past The Wire
Mike Willman/Santa Anita Press Box
ARCADIA, Calif.—Far back early and with a fast pace to run at, it was conditions to order for Irish-bred Lucky Girl, who rallied furiously to get up and win Monday’s $80,000 Swingtime Stakes by a half-length, getting one mile on turf under Joe Bravo in 1:34.07.
One of three D’Amato trainees in a field nine fillies and mares three and up, Lucky Girl was next to last, about 10 lengths off her well-fancied stablemate Hamwood Flier in the run around the first turn and with splits of 22.95, 45.14, 1:09.01 and 1:21.80 to run at, she was able to overcome a six length deficit with an eighth of mile to run, as she collared Freedom Flyer near the wire.
A two-time ungraded stakes winner here at one mile on turf early in her 3-year-old campaign, 4-year-old Lucky Girl had kept good company since, but was winless in her last seven starts, finishing a close fourth in her most recent assignment, the Grade II Yellow Ribbon Handicap at 1 1/16 miles on turf Aug. 12 at Del Mar.
Off at 6-1, she paid $15.40, $7.60 and $5.20
“I think just giving her time off from (age) two to three, that’s what really helped her and just maturity,” said D’Amato. “I have to give my wife Sherrie a lot of credit for this. She’s learned to gallop her in draw reins, and I think that has helped her a lot as well. I think you can see her progression from her races earlier in her career to now.
“She just finished better, and she used to be kind of a filly to make a big move around the turn and flatten out late. Now she’s (sustaining) that run all the way through to the wire.”
Owned by Panic Stable, LLC, Lucky Girl, who made her 4-year-old debut two starts back and her third start for D’Amato today, notched her third stakes win and improved her overall race record to 14-3-0-1. With the winner’s cut of $55,200, she increased her earnings to $189,863.
“If you see her earlier races, she used to run halfway through the race and was very anxious,” said Bravo. “I felt confident going into the gate because she was so relaxed and in control of herself. She just grew up into the filly that we thought she could be.”
Trained by Leonard Powell and ridden by Antonio Fresu, Freedom Flyer wrested the lead inside the sixteenth from Unbridled Mary but was no match for the winner on the money. Off at 13-1, Freedom Flyer paid $10.40 and $6.60 while finishing second by 1 ¼ lengths.
Ridden by Hector Berrios, Unbridled Mary mounted a big rail rally, overtaking Hamwood Flier an eighth of a mile out, but she wasn’t able to finish with the top two. Off at 8-1, she paid $6.80 to show while finishing a head in front of Eddie’s New Dream.
Idle since Dec. 4 of last year, Hamwood Flier, who won last year’s Swingtime, broke through the gate prior to the start and after setting fast fractions, was done turning for home as the 8-5 favorite.
Racing resumes on Saturday with first post time at 1 p.m. Entries will be taken for Saturday on Wednesday morning and be available at santaanita.com later in the day.