ARCADIA, CA – Tommy Towns Thoroughbreds’ Keeper Ofthe Stars continued her upward ascension amongst the west coast’s female turf contingency after she stalked and pounced for victory in Monday’s $300,000 Gamely Stakes (G1) at Santa Anita Park.
Breaking from the far outside 11 post under Abel Cedillo at 7/1 odds, Keeper Ofthe Stars settled into a pressured early stalking position, running two-wide outside of Simply Breathless. Up front, Giza Goddess posted opening fractions of :23.22, :47.20, and 1:11.03 while Tiny Tina gave closest watch.
Inching forward heading into the far turn, Keeper Ofthe Stars was hesitant to advance despite Cedillo’s urging until she straightened for home. Now running three-wide outside of Tiny Tina and Giza Goddess, Keeper Ofthe Stars kicked into high gear at the 1/8 pole and began to pull away from the field.
Late rallies from Bodhicitta and Mucho Unusual proved no factor to Keeper Ofthe Stars, who held on to win by 1 1/4 lengths in the end. The Jonathan Wong trainee completed the 1 1/8-mile firm turf route in a final time of 1:46.43.
“She’s better if somebody is in front of her,” said Cedillo, who won four of the 11 races carded Monday. “She likes to follow. If she has a target, she is better. Last time I rode her, I noticed that, so I tried to do the same thing today. I think this was her best race.”
Bodhicitta outkicked Mucho Unusual by a nose in her first start against graded foes. Flavien Prat’s mount was stretching out after winning back-to-back mile-long allowance routes over the local turf.
“She relaxed well and she was very professional,” Prat said. “To go from an allowance race into a Grade 1 and run the way she did is very impressive. I’m happy with her.”
Beautiful Lover beat Lady Prancealot for fourth by a 1/2-length, while Giza Goddess weakened to sixth, a neck ahead of a similarly-fading Tiny Tina. The 8/5 favorite Etoile failed to close properly from last, finishing eighth ahead of Simply Breathless and Siberian Iris to complete the order of finish.
Ollie’s Candy was scratched.
Keeper Ofthe Stars’ win was her second straight following the local Buena Vista Stakes (G2) and improved her overall record to 15-7-1-3. The 4-year-old Midnight Lute filly, purchased for $180,000 as a yearling, has now earned $501,931.
“I’m over the moon right now!” Wong said from his base at Golden Gate Fields. I’m really speechless. This is my first Grade 1, so I’m off the schneid! Now that she’s learned to relax, the sky’s the limit with her. (Trainer) Kristin Mulhall is overseeing everything down there and she deserves all the credit, along with the whole crew. This filly had been training so well and she got an amazing ride from Abel; he couldn’t have ridden her any better. She’s a really good filly. I thought she could’ve won a couple of those graded stakes at Del Mar (last year’s San Clemente Stakes [G2] and Del Mar Oaks [G1]), but her best races are in front of her. I couldn’t be any prouder.”
Keeper Ofthe Stars returned $16.60 to win, $7.40 to place, and $6.40 to show. Bodhicitta brought back $13.60 to place and $8 to show, while Mucho Unusual paid $5.60 to show.