ARCADIA, CA – Racing fans at The Great Race Place can count on three things being inevitable: death, taxes, and Vasilika winning on her home turf. That sentiment was on full display once again on Monday when the super mare got up in time to win the $500,000 Gamely Stakes (G1) at Santa Anita Park.
Breaking from post 4 under Flavien Prat as the even-money favorite, Vasilika sat an early stalking position in mid-pack while Ahimsa posted opening fractions of :24.37, :48.52, and 1:12.12. Tipped out to run three-wide in the far turn, Vasilika began moving steadily toward the pacesetter and turned for home with nothing but green grass in front.
Under steady urging from her regular rider, Vasilika put on a show as she sailed ahead to the lead in the shadow of the wire before crossing with a 1-length advantage. The Jerry Hollendorfer trainee’s winning time for the 1 1/8-mile event over the good turf course was 1:48.07.
“I knew we would be fairly close to the lead,” Prat said. “I took hold of her on the last turn and took her outside. She does everything I ask of her. I’m just a lucky man. This filly knows how to win. She knows what to do. It is quite amazing to be around her.”
East coast invader Rymska, who had been the slight betting favorite until moments before the race began, made an impressive move between foes late but was only able to muster second by a 1/2-length over a stubborn Ahimsa. Elysea’s World rallied from near the rear for fourth over Meal Ticket, with Streak of Luck just a neck behind in sixth. Ollie’s Candy‘s 4-year-old debut did not go as planned, as she was shut off and shuffled back early and never recovered, outfinishing only a spent Causeforcommotion to complete the order of finish.
Vasilika’s win was her 11th in 12 career starts at Santa Anita Park, with her lone loss coming on March 4, 2018, when she finished a neck behind Causeforcommotion in an allowance event while going 1 1/8 miles on the lawn. The 5-year-old daughter of Skipshot improved her career record to 32-17-4-3 with $1,358,595 earned for co-owners Hollendorfer, All Schlaich Stables, Gatto Racing, and George Todaro.
“She has the turn of foot that most horses don’t have, but she continues to do it,” Hollendorfer said. “Today, Prat didn’t like where he was, so he let her drift back a little so he could get out of where he was. He didn’t like being in between horses, so luckily for us, once she saw daylight, she still had that big turf of foot.”
Vasilika returned $4.20 to win, $2.40 to place, and $2.20 to show. Rymska brought back $2.60 to place and $2.40 to show, while Ahimsa paid $6.40 to show.