ARCADIA, CA – Abbondanza Racing and Medallion Racing’s Irish-bred Queen Blossom saved ground for much of the race before a bold rail bid helped her reach the front just in time to score her first American victory in Saturday’s Grade 3, $100,000 Santa Barbara Stakes at Santa Anita.
Breaking well from post 3 under Flavien Prat, Queen Blossom sat a ground-saving trip in third while fellow Richard Baltas trainee Space Cadet posted splits of :24.57, :48.92, 1:13.57, and 1:38.76 through the opening mile. Coming out into the stretch, Queen Blossom split between foes to gain the lead in deep stretch before hitting the wire first by a 1/2-length in a final time of 2:27.65 for the 1 1/2-mile turf marathon.
“The pace was pretty slow,” Prat said. “With blinkers the first time, she was on the bit the whole way. But as soon as I asked her, she made a nice move.”
Causeforcommotion took second ahead of two other Baltas entries, Pantsonfire and Luce De. The 4-5 favorite Plein Air weakened after chasing Space Cadet for much of the race and was only able to outlast the early leader in the end.
Queen Blossom’s win was her first since coming to America in 2016 and was her first on-the-board finish since last September. The 5-year-old daughter of Jeremy improved her career record to 15-3-2-1 with an international bankroll of $188,734.
“I thought the fractions were quick for the distance,” Baltas said. “I just told Flavien to try and cover her up, because she was on the outside last time, and I told him she wants a mile and 1/2. That’s her deal. It’s just great for the owners.”
Queen Blossom returned $21.60 to win, $8.60 to place, and $5.60 to show. Causeforcommotion brought back $8.80 to place and $5 to show, while Pantsonfire paid $3.40 to show.