ARCADIA, CA – Trainer Richard Baltas’ Super Patriot cruised to the lead in mid-stretch and drew off late under confident handling to win Saturday’s $100,000 Fran’s Valentine Stakes at Santa Anita Park.
Breaking from post 2 under Flavien Prat as the 3/2 favorite, Super Patriot settled into stride at the rear of the six-horse field while the two-time defending champion Cordiality set the pace. Racing unchallenged through the clubhouse turn and down the backstretch, Cordiality posted opening fractions of :24.03 and :48.22.
Sedamar ranged up from her close stalking position to apply pressure heading into the far turn, and at the top of the stretch, she emerged with a slim advantage. Behind her, Prat tipped Super Patriot off of the rail to commence a three-wide rally to the front while keeping her to a vigorous hand-ride.
Though Sedamar briefly distanced herself at the top of the lane, she quickly lost the gap as Super Patriot turned on the jets. Prat’s confident handling pushed her to the lead in mid-stretch before drawing away to win by 1 3/4 lengths.
Super Patriot completed the mile-long firm turf route in a final time of 1:35.66.
“She’s not easy to deal with, but she is special,” Baltas said. “She’s got a great turn of foot. They were walking, but she was off the bridle and looked very comfortable. All I told Flavien was, ‘Don’t get her stopped.’ She was inside, then he took her outside. He’s Flavien Prat!”
Despite being no match for the bettors’ choice, Sedamar continued fighting in the stretch to save second by a 1/2-length over Warren’s Showtime, while Pulpit Rider and a weakened Cordiality were close behind them in fourth and fifth, respectively. Hollywood Hills was eased in the stretch before completing the order of finish.
Super Patriot’s win was her first at the stakes level and improved her overall record to 28-6-5-6 with $353,954 earned for co-owners Baltas, Little Red Feather Racing, Jeremy Peskoff, Jose Cruz, and Raymond Salvatore. Since Baltas claimed her for $35,000 last June, she has strung together a 7-3-2-1 record while steadily competing against tougher competition.
Super Patriot returned $5 to win, $2.80 to place, and $2.10 to show. Sedamar brought back $3.80 to place and $2.40 to show, while Warren’s Showtime paid $2.40 to show.