ARCADIA, CA – Slam Dunk Racing’s Madam Dancealot overcame a slow early pace and surged late with gusto to win Sunday’s Grade 2, $200,000 Santa Ana Stakes at Santa Anita.
Breaking well from the rail under Corey Nakatani as the post-time favorite, Madam Dancealot settled near the rear to continue saving ground while Sassy Little Lila set tepid splits of :24.78, :49.00, and 1:12.89 on the front end. Midway around the far turn, Madam Dancealot came off the rail and split between foes, then surged down the stretch past her Richard Baltas-trained stablemate Midnight Crossing to win by a 1/2-length in a final time of 1:49.51 for the 1 1/8-mile turf event.
“There was no concern whatsoever about getting there in time,” Nakatani said. “I always get on her and know what she’s capable of doing. She’s capable of laying closer and I knew they would be going slow. I thought it would play into my favor today.
“You stay out of her way, let her do the running and when you call on her, she’ll do what she did today—she’ll explode. I geared her down the last part of it to keep her happy and willing to do the things she needs to do.”
Midnight Crossing held well for second, a 1/2-length ahead of Sassy Little Lila. Lucy De took fourth, with How Unusual, Majestic Heat, and Evo Campo completing the order of finish. Fault was scratched, while Laseen decided moments after breaking that she didn’t feel like running. After she failed to respond to jockey Kent Desormeaux’s initial encouragement, she was pulled up and walked off under her own power.
Madam Dancealot’s win was her first since upsetting the Grade 2 San Clemente Handicap at Del Mar last July. The 4-year-old Irish-bred daughter of Sir Prancealot increased her career earnings to $489,775 with a record of 17-5-4-2.
“I saw Corey coming up the rail and I said ‘Don’t get her stopped!’” Baltas said. “I never would have thought she could have gone this far when we first got her, but she’s really changed. She still hasn’t won a Grade 1, but she’s been knocking on the door.”
Madam Dancealot returned $4.60 to win, $3.20 to place, and $2.20 to show. Midnight Crossing brought back $7.20 to place and $4 to show, while Sassy Little Lila paid $2.60 to show.