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Favored Taris Takes G2 La Canada Stakes Saturday at Santa Anita Park

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ARCADIA, Calif. (Jan. 16, 2016)—Favored Taris made short work of her competition in Saturday’s Grade II, $200,000 La Canada Stakes at Santa Anita, as she took command mid-way around the far turn under Gary Stevens and cruised to a 5 ¼ length victory while getting 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.38.

Trained by Simon Callaghan, the 5-year-old Kentucky-bred mare by Flatter sat a comfortable third leaving the half mile pole and engaged dueling leaders Illuminant and Yahilwa approaching the three furlong pole.

“It was a perfect trip,” said Stevens. “It set up, the fractions were realistic and when Mike (Smith, aboard second choice Yahilwa) came up on the outside of me going into the far turn, the pressure really picked up.

“She reminds me of Beholder. She has the same tendencies, the same high cruising speed and they’re both very intelligent. She deserved this today.”

In a race reduced to five older fillies and mares due to the game-day declarations of Tara’s Tango and Honey Ride, Taris, who was well beaten in her only other career try going two turns, was heavily favored at even money and paid $4.00, $260 and $2.10.

Owned by John Magnier, Derrick Smith or Michael Tabor, Taris followed up on a 2 ½ length score going a one turn mile in the Grade III Go for Wand Handicap Nov. 27 at Aqueduct and registered her seventh win from 11 career starts. With the winner’s share of $120,000, she increased her earnings to $807,700.

“I was a little anxious down the backside when she just took hold of the bridle a little bit,” said Callaghan. “She’s such a smart filly. She just dropped it then and relaxed. I kind of knew there were no worries about the distance.

“Gary knows this filly, not quite as good as me, but almost. I left it to him. It was one of those races with five runners where I didn’t know where the pace would be. I thought someone might try to take us on, so we just left it to Gary to see how the race unfolded.”

Ridden for the first time by Drayden Van Dyke, Birdatthewire, who was stretching out off a half length win in the Grade I, seven furlong La Brea Stakes on Dec. 26, was bothered by longshot Oscar Party going into the first turn.

“I was completely taken out by Santiago (Gonzalez, aboard Oscar Party),” said Van Dyke, in reference to the fact that Oscar Party’s bridle broke, leaving Gonzalez rudderless. “I didn’t know what was happening at first. He came flying by me, which made my horse get really rank. Poor Santiago though, it wasn’t his fault, but I got stuck outside of him and he was way out there.”

Despite the trouble, Birdatthewire was a close second going into the far turn, but fell far back straightening for home due to the fact she has a habit of getting out. Although she appeared hopelessly beaten a furlong from home, she rallied wide-out for second, finishing 1 ¼ lengths in front of Yahilwa.

Off at 7-2, Birdatthewire paid $3.40 and $2.20.

Ridden by Mike Smith, Yahilwa pressed the pace and tired late to finish a half length in front of Illuminant. Off at 9-5, Yahilwa paid $2.10 to show.

Fractions on the race were 23.93, 47.35, 1:11.71 and 1:37.51.

There was just one winning ticket in Saturday’s Pick Six, and it paid $85,158.60. The ticket was purchased at an as-yet undetermined location.

First post time for a nine-race card on Sunday is at 12:30 p.m. Admission gates will open 10:30 a.m.

JOCKEY QUOTES

GARY STEVENS, TARIS, WINNER: “It was a perfect trip. It set up, the fractions were realistic and when Mike came up on the outside of me going into the far turn the pressure really picked up.

“Simon has done such a good job settling her down, the question was if she could go long and she proved it today. She’d only tried going long one time but she’s always felt, to me, that she could go long.

“She reminds me of Beholder. She has the same tendencies, the same high cruising speed and they’re both very intelligent. She deserved this today.

DRAYDEN VAN DYKE, BIRDATTHEWIRE, SECOND: “I was completely taken out by Santiago (Gonzalez, on Oscar Party, whose rein broke going into the first turn). I didn’t know what was happening at first. He came flying by me, which made my horse get really rank. Poor Santiago though, it wasn’t his fault but I got stuck outside of him and he was way out there.

“If that hadn’t happened I would have been sitting perfect, right in behind the four that were up front; I would have been cruising. I would love another shot at riding her; it’s a shame that today turned out like it did because I think she would have run much closer to Taris.

“I think the only difficult part about riding Birdatthewire is down the lane. She likes being out in the middle of the track but you’ve just got to let her do her thing.”

TRAINER QUOTES

SIMON CALLAGHAN, TARIS, WINNER: “Definitely (it was a new dimension in not going to the lead). It was nice for her to do it. I was a little anxious down the backside when she just took hold of the bridle a little bit. She’s such a smart filly, she just dropped it and relaxed. I kind of knew there were no worries about the distance. I think the one time she ran this distance (sixth in the Honeybee at Oaklawn Park March 8, 2014), she got hurt after that race. It wasn’t a true reflection.

“Todd Beattie who trained her before told me she would stretch out. She’s kind of an adaptable mare and like I said, she’s just a good, classy filly. Gary knows this filly, not quite as good as me, but almost. I left it to him. It was one of those races with five runners where I didn’t know where the pace would be. I thought someone might try to take us on, so we just left it to Gary to see how the race unfolded.

“I think we’ll wait for the Santa Margarita in March (Grade I, $500,000, 1 1/8 miles on March 19).”

NOTES: The winning owners are John Magnier, Derrick Smith and Michael Tabor.

Source: Santa Anita Park

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