ARCADIA, CA – Little Red Feather Racing’s Mirth proved to be too fast for her foes to catch as she took them on a merry-go-round ride to wire Saturday’s $300,000 Rodeo Drive Stakes (G1) at Santa Anita Park.
The Rodeo Drive is a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” event, with Mirth receiving an automatic berth in the Maker’s Mark Filly & Mare Turf at Santa Anita Park this November.
Breaking sharply from the rail under Mike Smith at 6/1 odds, Mirth immediately asserted herself on the front end, opening up by multiple lengths while posting swift fractions of :23.72, :47.53, 1:11.05, and 1:35.00.
Still well in command as she rounded the far turn, Mirth came under pressure from Elysea’s World but dispatched of that foe shortly thereafter. Inching clear in the stretch, the Phil D’Amato trainee crossed 1 1/4 lengths ahead in a final time of 1:58.47 for the 1 1/4-mile event over the firm turf course.
“I’ve watched her and she’s been running dynamite,” Smith said after riding Mirth for the first time. “It looked like she wasn’t far from pulling one of these off, so I knew it was in her. It was just a matter of whether I could get a little brave and start marching a little early. She doesn’t really have a turn of foot; she just seems to keep staying and keep going.”
The 6/5 favorite Beau Recall closed as best she could from near the rear, necking out Elysea’s World at the wire for second. Siberian Iris, Excellent Sunset, and Paved completed the order of finish that saw each horse finish in order of post position.
Mirth’s win was her first since taking an allowance/optional claiming event over the local course on February 23. The 4-year-old daughter of Colonel John improved her record to 16-5-4-2 with $315,563 earned.
“She was kind of a late entry into the race,” said D’Amato, who two races prior saddled the winner of the John Henry Turf Championship Stakes (G2), contested over the same course and distance. “We were the lone speed and Mike just kind of doled it out the right way and had plenty left.”
Mirth returned $14.20 to win, $6.20 to place, and $3.40 to show. Beau Recall brought back $3 to place and $2.20 to show, while Elysea’s World paid $2.40 to show.