ARCADIA, CA – Phoenix Thoroughbred III’s Dream Tree kept her unbeaten streak alive after stalking the early pace and strolling home down the stretch to take Sunday’s Grade 2, $200,000 Las Virgenes Stakes at Santa Anita.
Off well from post 3 as the heavy 1/5 favorite under Drayden Van Dyke, Dream Tree stalked off the pace rail while Thirteen Squared set early fractions of :23.22, :46.68, and 1:11.73. After commencing her move through the far turn, Dream Tree emerged onto the stretch with full command and kicked away with ease under mild urging, finishing in a final time of 1:39.45 for the mile-long main track event.
“I was trying to be patient because I felt we were kind of going a little quick, and we were for this track,” Van Dyke said. “We’ve been working on her in the mornings and it’s worked out. I’ve been able to get her to relax and finish well, so what else could you ask for?! I’m excited about her. Hopefully, she stays good and sound and gets even better. I think she will.”
Exuberance overcame a slow start and and rallied hard off of the far turn, getting up just in time to take second by a 1/2-length over Steph Being Steph. Thirteen Squared faded in the stretch and finished fourth, with She’s No Drama and Holy Diver completing the order of finish.
The Las Virgenes is part of the Road to the 2018 Kentucky Oaks prep race season. Dream Tree earned 10 points for the win, with Exuberance receiving 4 for second, Steph Being Steph 2 for third, and Thirteen Squared 1 for fourth.
Dream Tree’s victory was her fourth in as many starts, including the Grade 1 Starlet Stakes at Los Alamitos last out. The Bob Baffert-trained 3-year-old daughter of Uncle Mo increased her career earnings to $390,000 after taking home $120,000 for the win and will aim for the Santa Anita Oaks as her next race.
“I thought she was fresh,” Baffert said. “I just love the way she sat off those front-runners. I know she has a lot of speed. I think she’s getting better mentally and she’s relaxing and she really brought it at the end.”
Dream Tree returned $2.60 to win, $2.10 to place, and $2.10 to show. Exuberance brought back $5.80 to place and $2.80 to show, while Steph Being Steph paid $2.20 to show.