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ARCADIA, CA — With a fast pace to exploit, Illuminant charged up the rail and prevailed by a 1/2-length over longshot Coniah in Saturday’s Grade 2, $200,000 Monrovia Stakes at Santa Anita.
Trained by Michael McCarthy and ridden by Flavien Prat, Illuminant, the winner of last year’s Grade 1, 1 1/8 mile Gamely Stakes, covered 6 ½ furlongs on turf in 1:12.13.
Most recently seventh in the Grade 1 Jenny Wiley Stakes at Keeneland on April 15, Illuminant, a 5-year-old Pennsylvania-bred mare by Quality Road, was the second choice at 8-5 in a field of eight fillies and mares.
“Even a broken clock is right twice a day,” quipped Aron Wellman, on behalf of co-owner Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners. “We wanted to defend our title (today) in the (Grade 1) Gamely, but this race made more sense. Sol (Kumin, a part of Head of Plains Partners) owns part of Lady Eli (today’s Gamely winner), so this just made more sense. We’re very happy with the way she ran.”
A winner over the course of the Wishing Well Stakes two starts back on March 10, Illuminant now has three wins from five hillside starts. Her overall record now stands at 14-6-2-1, and with the winner’s share of $120,000, she now has earnings of $536,243.
“This is the first time that she’s actually laid off the pace, going down the hill, so I was a little nervous to say the least,” said McCarthy. “But once she cut going across the dirt, I thought she had it. Going across the dirt, I could see her quicken.”
Prat, who’s ridden Illuminant in her last seven starts, said, “That was a dream trip. She broke well, and she’s just not fast enough to follow that fast pace. Crossing the dirt, I was low and everything opened up down by the rail. It was great.”
Ridden by Irad Ortiz, Jr., Coniah gained a narrow advantage in midstretch but couldn’t hold off the winner, finishing second by 1 1/4 lengths over the Irish-bred Anita Partner.
Ridden by Brice Blanc, Anita Partner was last early, rallied three-wide turning for home, and finished a 1/2 length in front of Brazilian-bred Juno. Enola Gray, the 6-5 favorite with Tyler Baze, was part of a three-horse battle up front and tired to finish fifth. Watch This Cat, Paquita Coqueta, and Swift Lady completed the order of finish.
Fractions on the race were 21.29, 43.04 and 1:06.10.
Illuminant returned $5.20, $3.40, and $2.80. Coniah brought back $16.60 and $7.60, while Anita Partner paid $5.60 to show.
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Trainer Michael McCarthy, Illuminant: “I thought she was very good when she came to us. It took us a little while to kind of get her lined out and she battled a few things but once we were able to get her on track, she took us there.
Co-Owner Aron Wellman, Illuminant: “She’s high maintenance, to say the least. The good ones are, that’s for sure. All credit goes to Michael and his staff. For her to still be winning graded stakes at age 5 is an incredible testament to his horsemanship and his whole team.
“It’s a very special day any day she runs. To see her win a stakes here, and now a graded stakes at age 5, is very gratifying.”
Jockey Brice Blance, Anita Partner: “She ran awesome for her first time against those types of horses. It was a pretty good step up (in class). She ran her race. She was a tad loose at the top of the hill – she struggled early, so I got a little farther back than I would have liked. Once she crossed the dirt, she really gave me everything she had.”
Santa Anita Park
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