ARCADIA, Calif. (March 19, 2016)—Under a well-timed ride from Rafael Bejarano, Tara’s Tango rolled from off the pace to collar favored Taris late and win Saturday’s Grade I, $500,000 Santa Margarita Stakes at Santa Anita by one length. Owned and bred by Stonestreet Stables, LLC, and trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, Tara’s Tango negotiated 1 1/8 miles in 1:50.44.
Although she added blinkers for the first time, Tara’s Tango relaxed nicely beneath Bejarano and trailed a field of five older fillies and mares into the Club House turn. Next to last midway around the far turn, she rallied three-wide turning for home en route to her first Grade I win.
“The blinkers made a big difference today, they helped me a lot from the gate,” said Bejarano, who was aboard “Tara” for the first time. “I waited for the opportunity and when we got to the stretch, she gave me a good turn of foot and I knew I could beat the favorite.”
The second choice in the wagering at 5-2, Tara’s Tango paid $7.20, $3.00 and $2.40. A winner of the Grade II, 1 1/16 miles Santa Maria Stakes here on Feb. 13 under Martin Garcia (who was away today, winning aboard the Bob Baffert-trained Cupid in the Grade II Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park), Tara’s Tango, a 4-year-old filly by Unbridled’s Song, got her fourth win from 10 career starts. With the winner’s share of $300,000, she nearly doubled her bank account to $618,004.
“When Martin won on her last time, he said she was running in spots and suggested the blinkers,” said Hollendorfer, who notched his second career victory in Santa Anita’s signature race for older fillies and mares. “They’re just small ones, but they helped. It was an excellent race and I’m very proud to get the Grade I for the owner. She got a good trip and showed a lot of heart running down the favorite.”
Ridden by Gary Stevens, Taris showed her customary early zip from her outside post position, sitting second around the first turn and down the backside to Florida invader Penwith. As the field rounded the far turn, Taris gained the advantage leaving the three sixteenths pole, but had to settle for second, 1 ¼ lengths clear of Living The Life.
A winner of two consecutive graded stakes, Taris was off at 4-5 and paid $2.40 and $2.10.
“I was really happy with the race,” said Stevens. “She settled nicely for me and I was surprised when Tara’s Tango ran by me. When I turned into the stretch, she switched over to her right lead and kicked. As you could see, I was giving her a nice hand ride and when I saw (the winner), I said ‘Really?!’
“It’s funny, because it felt like 1:48 and change. It didn’t feel like 1:50.00…She had such a good kick, I just got outrun on the day, period.”
Irish-bred Living The Life, who was ridden by Flavien Prat, sat a close third going into the far turn and kept to her task gamely after steadying off heels in deep stretch, finishing third, 2 ¼ lengths in front of Penwith.
Off at 8-1, Living The Life paid $3.00 to show.
Fractions on the race were 23.69, 46.85, 1:13.32 and 1:38 flat.
First post time for a nine-race card on Sunday is at 12:30 p.m. Admission gates open at 10:30 a.m.
RAFAEL BEJARANO, TARA’S TANGO, WINNER: “The blinkers made a big difference today, they helped me a lot from the gate. I was able to put my horse into position right away. I waited for the opportunity and when we got to the stretch, she gave me a big turn of foot and I knew I could beat the favorite.”
GARY STEVENS, TARIS, SECOND: “I was really happy with the race. She settled nicely for me and I was surprised when Tara’s Tango ran by me. When I turned into the stretch, she switched over to her right lead and she kicked. As you could see I was giving her a nice hand ride and when I saw that grey head come up I said, ‘really?!’
“It’s funny because it felt like 1:48 and change; it didn’t feel like 1:50.00. I thought it was nice. She had such a good kick and she did kick, I just got outrun on the day, period.”
JERRY HOLLENDORFER, TARA’S TANGO, WINNER: On her wearing blinkers for the first time: “When (Martin) won on her last time (in the Grade II Santa Maria Stakes on Feb. 13), he said she was running in spots and suggested the blinkers. They’re just small ones, but they helped. It was an exciting race and I’m very proud to get the Grade I for the owner (Stonestreet Stables). She got a good trip and showed a lot of heart running down the favorite.”
Noted that Rafael Bejarano picked up the mount since Garcia committed to ride Cupid for Bob Baffert in today’s $900,000 Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park, which he won, Hollendorfer said: “I’m glad for both of them. It worked out well, a win/win situation.”
BARBARA BANKE, OWNER/BREEDER OF TARA’S TANGO, WINNER: “We’ve always known she had a lot of ability, from when she won her first start at Del Mar (in July, 2014). Today, we knew she could get the distance and she just keeps trying and she never stops. This is very special; I’ve got my son, Christopher, and my nephew, Nick, here, and it’s been great.”
NOTES: The winning owner is Barbara Banke of Stonestreet Farm in Lexington, Ky.
Source: Santa Anita Park