ARCADIA, CA – Tommy Town Thoroughbreds’ Keeper Ofthe Stars bounced back from a recent slide on Saturday to pull off a big upset in the $200,000 Buena Vista Stakes (G2) at Santa Anita Park.
Breaking from post 11 under Abel Cedillo at 36/1 odds (the longest in her 16-race career), Keeper Ofthe Stars gradually angled over until she was two-wide in fourth heading into the clubhouse turn. Ahead of her, the 3/5 favorite Jolie Olimpica pulled jockey Mike Smith through early fractions of :23.23, :46.49, and 1:10.24.
Cedillo let Keeper Ofthe Stars roll heading into the far turn, and by the top of the stretch, she was running three-wide under a full head of steam. Straightening for home, Keeper Ofthe Stars dispatched of Brill to her immediate inside, then began chiseling away at the bettors’ choice.
Inching past Jolie Olimpica inside the 1/16 pole, Keeper Ofthe Stars crossed a 1/2-length ahead in a final time of 1:34.15 for the mile-long event over the firm turf course.
“I thought if we could get her to relax off the pace today, she could make one run,” Cedillo said. “I got her back going into the first turn and she relaxed really good. The distance was perfect and she finished really strong.”
Stretching out to a two-turn mile for the first time, the Brazilian-bred Jolie Olimpica could not hold off the winner’s late charge and settled for second, a 1/2-length in front of Mucho Unusual.
“Going from a sprint to a route today, she just didn’t relax,” Smith said. “She was pulling, and when she does that, she’s not breathing the way she needs to.”
Lady Prancealot closed from seventh to take fourth. Tiny Tina crossed the wire in fifth after splitting foes in the stretch, but in doing so, she caused Super Patriot to steady hard. As Super Patriot crossed in eighth, the stewards disqualified Tiny Tina and placed her behind Super Patriot.
The disqualification moved Brill up to fifth, Meal Ticket to sixth, and Super Patriot to seventh. La Sardane completed the order of finish in ninth.
Carressa, Muchly, and Sold It were trainer scratches.
Keeper Ofthe Stars’ win was her first since taking the local Autumn Miss Stakes (G3) while going a mile on October 26. The 4-year-old daughter of Midnight Lute, purchased for $180,000 as a yearling, has now earned $321,931.
“We have been very high on this filly,” Wong said. “When Tom and Debi (Stull) from Tommy Town Thoroughbreds gave her to me, it felt like the best horse we have ever had. We thought she would come from off the pace. She is better when she has something to chase and when she is on the outside and clear because she has such a long stride; it takes her a while to get going.”
It was that running style that Wong believes prevented Keeper Ofthe Stars from running better than sixth last time out here in the mile-long Megahertz Stakes (G3).
“She made the lead pretty easily and Brill came up to her outside and we took back,” Wong said of her Megahertz trip. “Then she got into some trouble, and she is the type of filly that you can’t stop and go. You have to stay clear and let her just keep rolling.”
Keeper Ofthe Stars returned $74.20 to win, $14.80 to place, and $6 to show. Jolie Olimpica brought back $3 to place and $2.20 to show, while Mucho Unusual paid $3 to show.