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The Racing Dudes team reacts to Desert Dawn winning the Santa Anita Oaks (G2) at Santa Anita Park in a major upset, then discuss who they like moving forward, including any potential longshots. Join our replay watch-along to get our instant LIVE reactions to this major Kentucky Oaks (G1) prep race worth 100-40-20-10 points to the top 4 finishers, then tell us your thoughts about the race in the Comments section!
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The track press release:
In a major upset, Desert Dawn, the longest shot in the field at 14-1, wore down heavily favored Adare Manor late to take Saturday’s Grade II, $400,000 Santa Anita Oaks by neck and thus ensured herself a place in the starting gate for the Grade I Kentucky Oaks on May 6. Trained by Phil D’Amato and ridden by Umberto Rispoli, Desert Dawn got a mile and one sixteenth in 1:43.50.
A Kentucky Oaks qualifier, Desert Dawn picked up 100 points for the win, Adare Manor, 40, Ain’t Easy got 20 and fourth place finisher Under the Stars collected 10 points.
D’Amato’s Ain’t Easy, off at 3-1 with Juan Hernandez, shot to front from her number two post position while Adare Manor and John Velazquez, breaking from the far outside in a field of five sophomore fillies, pressed her every step of the way through splits of 23.05, 46.46, 1:10.56 and 1:37.76.
Ain’t Easy had a narrow head advantage on the favorite turning for home, tired leaving the furlong pole while Desert Dawn pounced and in a protracted battle, inched clear late to narrowly prevail on the money.
A non-threatening fourth going the same distance in the Grade III Santa Ysabel Stakes March 6, Desert Dawn, who is owned and bred by H & E Ranch, Inc., paid $31.20, $7.40 and $3.20.
“She’s an honest filly,” said D’Amato. “I always thought once she’d get her scenario, It’d work out for her and I think the longer, the better. Umberto’s been breezing her and her last drill was probably her best drill to date, so it all worked out.”
By Cupid out of the Honour and Glory mare Ashley’s Glory, Desert Dawn, in her seventh start, notched her first stakes victory. With an overall mark of 7-2-0-1, she picked up $240,000 for the win, increasing her earnings to $378,400.
“I knew we needed that last race and I felt the last work was better than shown,” said Rispoli. “I just wanted to keep her outside and I knew the pace would set up really well for her. We started to move at the three eighths pole and she fought every step of the way…Now, it is on to Kentucky!”
A 13 length winner of the Grade II Las Virgenes Stakes Feb. 6 and a 12 length maiden winner two starts back on Jan. 7, Adare Manor, who was transferred from now-suspended Bob Baffert to Tim Yakteen, was off at 3-5 and paid $2.80 and $2.10 while finishing 7 ½ lengths in front of Ain’t Easy.
“We are obviously disappointed in the result,” said Velazquez. “She just didn’t run her A-race. She broke slowly and was in a good position in the backstretch. But she just didn’t run the way she usually does.”
Off at 7-2, Ain’t Easy paid $2.40 to show while finishing 3 ½ lengths better than Under the Stars, who broke tardily.
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