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ARCADIA, CA – Invading jockey Joe Bravo perfectly piloted Lady Prancealot to prevail with a gutsy, rail-skimming victory in Saturday’s $300,000 American Oaks (G1) at Santa Anita Park.
Breaking from post 5 under Bravo as the 8/5 favorite, Lady Prancealot took back and settled toward the rear as the field crossed the dirt onto the main turf course. Up ahead, So Much Happy set the early pace, posting fractions of :24.45, :48.67, and 1:13.80 while Vibrance gave closest watch.
Keen to run on for much of the going, Vibrance was finally let loose heading into the far turn, where she collared the leader and took a narrow advantage near the 3/16 pole. Behind them, however, the field had bunched up, and at the top of the stretch, it looked like it could be anybody’s race.
Bravo patiently waited until a hole opened up along the inside, then immediately shot Lady Prancealot through it. Picking off foes to her outside with tremendous gusto, the Richard Baltas trainee met new leader Mucho Unusual in the shadow of the wire.
Continuing to kick strongly, Lady Prancealot inched clear late to win by a 1/2-length in a final time of 2:01.70 for the 1 1/4-mile event over the good turf course.
“Knowing a horse is always key, and the more information you can have, the better,” said Bravo, who rode her for the first time last out when she won the Pin Oak Valley View Stakes (G3) at Keeneland on October 18. “Last time at Keeneland, she really took the lead too early, so I know the type of horse to point her at. I give Richard all the credit. Before the race, I told him, ‘She’s walking over here like a winner.'”
Though caught at the finish, Mucho Unusual was game in defeat and finished 1 1/2 lengths ahead of Pretty Point in third. Giza Goddess was 3/4 of a length behind in fourth, while Apache Princess was another 1 3/4 lengths back in fifth.
A weakened Vibrance, K P Slickem, and a spent So Much Happy completed the order of finish.
Lady Prancealot’s win was her second straight and improved her record to 17-5-4-3. The Irish-bred 3-year-old daughter of Sir Prancealot has now earned $547,841 lifetime for co-owners Craig Arntz, Josie Arntz, Donald Durando, Jules Iavarone, Michael Iavarone, and Jerry McClanahan.
“She has been ultra-consistent,” Baltas said. “I want to give a hats off to the guys at San Luis Rey Downs, my asssistant trainer who has had her there most of the time. ‘Jersey Joe’ rode an awesome race and we are all happy now.”
Lady Prancealot returned $5.20 to win, $3 to place, and $2.40 to show. Mucho Unusual brought back $4 to place and $3.20 to show, while Pretty Point paid $5.80 to show.
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