ARCADIA, CA – Matriarca’s Chilean homebred Sanenus broke through with a scintillating performance to earn her first North American score in Saturday’s $200,000 La Canada Stakes (G3) at Santa Anita Park.
With jockey Umberto Rispoli in the irons for the first time on race day, Sanenus settled comfortably in third heading into the clubhoues turn.
Hard Not to Love and the 4/5 favorite Fighting Mad dueled heads apart early before Hard Not to Love tapped on the brakes halfway down the backstretch and tipped off the rail before running back after the favorite.
Just as Hard Not to Love fought her way back up to the front, she was joined by Sanenus and Miss Stormy D, normally a pacesetting type who chose to sit well off this time.
Sanenus quickly swallowed up the front-runners and entered the far turn in sole possession of the lead, which she only widened while cornering.
The Michael McCarthy trainee aired in the stretch, ultimately crossing 6 lengths clear while completing the 1 1/16-mile fast dirt route in 1:45.44.
“I’ve been on her several times in the morning,” Rispoli said. “I knew she was a very good filly. Today, I asked her a bit at the 1/2-mile pole and she responded well. At the top of the stretch, she was looking around and I was just hoping she was going to stay focused. She finished well and I think she has more there.”
Miss Stormy D and jockey Mike Smith fought hard in the stretch to take second by a nose over Hard Not to Love, whom Smith had ridden in her past 7 starts.
Never Be Enough, Fighting Mad, Proud Emma, and Message completed the order of finish.
Sanenus’ victory came in her fourth North American start; she was third in a pair of optional claiming events at Del Mar and Churchill Downs before finishing second in the Chilukki Stakes (G3) last time out. A Grade/Group 1 winner in her homeland, the 5-year-old Scat Daddy mare’s record now stands at 12-5-2-2 with $219,700 earned.
“Umberto did a great job,” McCarthy said. “He had to niggle a little bit at her to kind of keep her in the game around the first turn. I thought she was in a great position up the backside and she went up to engage those fillies leaving the 1/2-mile pole. At the 1/4 (mile pole), she had her ears up and I love the way she opened up. The La Canada has a great history; a lot of really nice mares have won this race over the years and this is a nice race to have on her resume.”
Sanenus returned $17 to win, $8.20 to place, and $4.60 to show. Miss Stormy D brought back $12 to place and $5.80 to show, while Hard Not to Love paid $3 to show.