ARCADIA, CA – Fox Hill Farms’ Jolie Olimpica made a stylish North American debut on Saturday, effortlessly shattering the track record while taking the $100,000 Las Cienegas Stakes (G3) at Santa Anita Park.
Breaking from post 3 under Mike Smith as the 6/5 favorite, Jolie Olimpica sat a close stalking position behind Kentan Road, who shot to the early lead. Jorge Velez piloted Kentan Road through comfortable early fractions of :22.00 and :44.22 as the compact field of five entered the far turn.
Ranging up two-wide under her own power, Jolie Olimpica met Kentan Road’s throat latch at the top of the stretch. Smith only gave a slight shake of the reins before Jolie Olimpica steadily pulled ahead of her rival and inched clear.
Wrapped up and geared down near the shadow of the wire, Jolie Olimpica crossed 1 1/4 lengths the best while never being asked for her best. The Richard Mandella trainee completed the 5 1/2-furlong sprint over the firm turf course in a course record time of 1:01.00, besting Torosay’s mark of 1:01.49 set on November 3, 2019.
“I just listened to what Mr. Mandella told me this morning,” said Smith, who rode her sire, Drosselmeyer, to victory in the 2010 Belmont Stakes (G1) and the 2011 Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1). “He said, ‘She trains like she’s really quick, maybe a little too quick, so be still leaving there. If she puts you (up on the pace), fine; if not, give her a chance to settle and she should finish.'”
Kentan Road stayed on for second over Storm the Hill by 2 1/4 lengths. An Eddie Surprise, a $2,000 supplemental entry, took fourth over Free Cover to complete the order of finish.
Jolie Olimpica’s win was her fourth in as many career starts and her first since Fox Hill Farms privately purchased her from breeder Stud T N T. The Brazilian-bred 4-year-old daughter of Drosselmeyer’s most recent appearance was a 6-lengths score over males in the GP Jockey Club Brasileiro Stakes (G1) while going 1 mile over heavy turf.
“She adapted quicker than most South American imports,” said Richard Mandella’s son, Gary. “A couple of the really good horses dad’s had over the years took a while to adjust. She was quicker than they were. We didn’t necessarily expect her to break that fast, because if you watch her replays in South America, she didn’t always just leave there super-quick. He wasn’t sure if she’d get outrun a little the first part or if she’d do what she did. You don’t know until you put them out there. “
Jolie Olimpica returned $4.40 to win, $4 to place, and $2.20 to show. Kentan Road brought back $5.40 to place and $3 to show, while Storm the Hill paid $2.10 to show.