Under Kent Desormeaux Stella Noir (outside) battles Xmas Surprise (Flavien Prat) to the finish to score the prize in the Allowance Feature. (Ernie Belmonte/Past The Wire)
Mike Willman/Santa Anita Press Box
ARCADIA, Calif—Reserved off the pace but into the bridle while fourth, about five lengths off the lead in the run to the quarter pole, Stella Noir provided a timely reunion with her Hall of Fame jockey Kent Desormeaux, as she found her best stride late in taking Friday’s $75,000 hillside turf allowance feature by three quarters of a length. Trained by Kent’s brother Keith, Stella Noir got about 6 ½ furlongs down Santa Anita’s hillside turf course in 1:12.12.
Winless in her last seven starts without Desormeaux, Stella Noir’s most recent victory came with Desormeaux up in a first condition allowance down the hill on Jan. 23 of last year.
“The last time I won down the hill, she and I were partners,” said Desormeaux. “She ran tremendous. My brother couldn’t be here today but he sent me a text message and all he said was, ‘I can’t have her any better.’ And he was right.”
A well beaten eighth over the course in the ungraded Senator Ken Maddy Stakes on Oct. 29, Stella Noir was off at 6-1 in Friday’s second condition allowance among a field of eight older fillies and mares and paid $15.80, $6.20 and $3.80.
A 5-year-old mare by Stay Thirsty out of the Cuvee mare Guadalupe High, Stella Noir, who is owned by Rose Hill Farm, Keith Desormeaux, Wayne Detmar and Gene Voss, picked up $45,000 for the win, increasing her earnings to $207,142.
In what was her second win from five tries down the hillside turf, Stella Noir improved her overall mark to 16-3-3-3.
Ridden by Flavien Prat, Xmas Surprise completed the exacta and paid $7.40 and $4.40 while off at 7-1.
Finishing third, a half-length back was Secrets Told, who was off at 9-1 with Kyle Frey and paid $5.40 to show.
Off as the even money favorite with Juan Hernandez up, Phenom lacked the necessary kick through the lane and checked in fifth, beaten 4 ¼ lengths.
Fractions on the race were 21.63, 42.89 and 1:06.06.
Hernandez led all riders on the day by winning three races, giving him 16 for the meet, 11 clear of Flavien Prat. Jeff Mullins, Jr. led all trainers on Friday as he won with all three of his starters in his career bow.
Live racing will resume on Sunday with an eight-race card beginning at 12:30 p.m. Santa Anita will be open for simulcast wagering on Saturday and Sunday, beginning at 10 a.m.