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ARCADIA, CA – Nick Alexander homebred Just Grazed Me successfully defended her title in Saturday’s $100,000 California Distaff Handicap at Santa Anita Park.
Just Grazed Me was the 1/2 favorite as she broke so alertly from post 4 under Umberto Rispoli that she was on the lead without intending and soon allowed Gypsy Blu to set the tempo.
Just Grazed Me settled between Gypsy Blu and fellow Alexander homebred/Phil D’Amato trainee Althea Gibson through opening fractions of :22.67 and :45.61.
Digging in to fight her way to the lead in mid-stretch, Just Grazed Me held sway to win the 5 1/2-furlong turf sprint by 3/4 of a length in 1:02.99.
“This kind of race is always tricky because with five runners, you can expect a lot of speed or you can’t expect speed at all,” Rispoli said. “I knew Gypsy Blu on the outside broke slow, so I was thinking they were going to send her forward and I didn’t want to be in that trap. I saw around the corner that I could track her all the way”
Gypsy Blu gamely held second by a nose and a head over Nardini and Althea Gibson.
Smiling Shirlee was 2 lengths behind them to complete the order of finish in the five-horse field restricted to California-bred or sired fillies and mares.
Fantasy Heat was scratched.
Just Grazed Me’s win was her first of the year and improved her overall record to 14-7-4-1 with $494,332 earned. The 5-year-old Grazen mare was making her first start since finishing fifth in the Monrovia Stakes (G2) on over this course on May 25.
“She’s one of the barn favorites,” D’Amato said. “These Grazens can do anything. They make even me look good.”
Just Grazed Me returned $3 to win, $2.20 to place, and $2.10 to show. Gypsy Blu brought back $4 to place and $2.80 to show, while Nardini paid $2.40 to show.
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