ARCADIA, CA – Fox Hill Farms’ Jolie Olimpica climbed back on top with a last-second surge to win Monday’s $200,000 Monrovia Stakes (G2) at Santa Anita Park.
Breaking cleanly from post 7 under Mike Smith as the 4/5 odds-on favorite, Jolie Olimpica uncharacteristically sat in the cat-bird seat, rather than on the front end, once it became clear that the rail-breaking Stealthediamonds was hell-bent on the early lead. With Jolie Olimpica and Into Mystic giving closest chase, Stealthediamonds posted quick opening fractions of :21.40 and :43.48 while showing the way through the far turn.
At the top of the stretch, Jolie Olimpica moved up within striking range and began slowly eating away at the pacesetter. With Smith confidently handling her and only showing the riding crop, she inched ahead inside the final 1 1/16 pole and had more than enough left to withstand the late-running Oleksandra‘s charge.
Trained by Richard Mandella, Jolie Olimpica completed the 5 1/2-furlong firm turf sprint in a final time of 1:01.11 – just 0.11 seconds off of the course record that she herself set earlier this year in the Las Cienegas Stakes (G3).
“She’s that kind of horse, she deserves to be ridden confidently, she demands it as well,” Smith said of his decision to not push his mount. “I just let her be and she will get the job done. … We know she’s very effective going short. I do believe she’ll get a mile for sure. … She’s extremely talented and she’s proven herself going short. If we get a good trip, she’s going to be extremely hard to beat.”
Though she made a strong stretch run after trailing the field early on, Oleksandra’s push was not enough to topple the bettors’ choice. She crossed a 1/2-length behind Jolie Olimpica while beating Stealthediamonds for second by another 1/2-length.
Into Mystic was unable to keep up with the eventual winner in the stretch run and faded late to fourth, ahead of Just Grazed Me, Miss Hot Legs, and Surrender Now to complete the order of finish. Ginger Nut was scratched.
Jolie Olimpica’s win was her second in three starts since the Brazilian-bred filly came stateside to the Mandella barn. She was undefeated in three turf events over her native country’s lawn, including the GP Jockey Club Brasileiro (G1) against males. The 4-year-old Drosselmeyer daughter now has a record of 6-5-1-0 with $271,520 earned.
“What a nice filly,” Mandella said. “She basically ran back to her race here in the Las Cienegas two-back. She was so relaxed today. She’s settled nicely into our system and now I think she’ll go longer. I think Mike could’ve done whatever he wanted today.”
Jolie Olimpica returned $3.80 to win, $2.60 to place, and $2.10 to show. Oleksandra brought back $3.20 to place and $2.40 to show, while Stealthediamonds paid $3 to show.