ARCADIA, CA – Kaleem Shah and Coolmore’s Donna Veloce overcame a poor break to put on an impressive showcase while making her 2020 debut in Sunday’s $100,000 Santa Ysabel Stakes (G3) at Santa Anita Park.
Stumbling as she emerged from the rail post under Flavien Prat as the 1/5 prohibitive favorite, Donna Veloce recovered but found herself saving ground in mid-pack. Ahead of her, Gidgetta narrowly led a three-wide wall that included Speech and Tiz Fake News through opening fractions of :22.79 and :46.80.
Heading into the far turn, Prat tipped Donna Veloce off of the rail and sent her between Tiz Fake News and Speech to commence a three-wide bid. Let loose at the top of the stretch, Donna Veloce quickly turned her narrow lead into a wide one.
Opening up in mid-stretch while still under a hand ride, Donna Veloce crossed a geared-down 4 1/4 lengths ahead of Speech. The Simon Callaghan-trained filly completed the 1 1/16-mile event over the fast main track in a final time of 1:45.43.
“She was ready, but she stumbled there at the break and that got us in behind those horses, so she was a little bit keen,” Prat said. “When we turned down the backside, she dropped the bit and relaxed very well. It’s always great when they are able to adjust and I hope she can improve off of this race. She was full of run at the end and she handled everything well.”
Speech was 3 1/4 lengths ahead of a late-running Storie Blue, while Paige Anne necked out a fading Gidgetta for fourth. Tiz Fake News weakened steadily through the far turn and the length of the stretch but did complete the race under her own power.
The Santa Ysabel is part of the Road to the 2020 Kentucky Oaks prep race season. Donna Veloce earned 50 points for the win, with Speech receiving 20 for second, Storie Blue 10 for third, and Paige Anne 5 for fourth.
Donna Veloce’s win was her first since her maiden-breaking debut here on September 28, which begat runner-up efforts in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) and the Starlet Stakes (G1) to end 2019. The 3-year-old daughter of Uncle Mo, purchased for $800,000 as a juvenile, has now earned $490,000.
“After the Starlet, we gave her some time off,” Callaghan said. “She really had done a lot in a short time and nearly pulled off the Breeders’ Cup, but it was nice to give her a break and bring her back, then start her here in her 3-year-old campaign.”
Donna Veloce returned $2.60 to win, $2.10 to place, and $2.10 to show. Speech brought back $4.40 to place and $2.60 to show, while Storie Blue paid $2.80 to show.