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ARCADIA, CA – Classy Venetian Harbor, in her first start since well-beaten in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1) at Keeneland November 7, seized immediate control and drew off to win Saturday’s $200,000 Monrovia Stakes (G2) at Santa Anita by 3 1/2 lengths.
Trained by Richard Baltas and ridden for the first time by Mario Gutierrez, Venetian Harbor got 6 1/2 furlongs on grass in 1:15.06 for her third graded stakes victory and first on turf.
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Breaking from post position 7 in a field of eight fillies and mares, Venetian Harbor sped to the lead while pressed by well-fancied Superstition to her outside, as well as Nasty and Never for Money, who tucked in just behind in the run to the far turn.
With a 1-length advantage a 1/4-mile out, Venetian Harbor opened up turning for home and won in-hand in a tremendous effort.
“I had the opportunity to work her in the mornings, so I already knew a lot about her,” said Gutierrez. “I knew she carried the speed, that was never the question. I just let her break and right away, try to not ask her too much, she did the rest. She put herself in the race. After that, it was just wait for the time to kick home and she got the job done.”
A winner of the Raven Run Stakes (G2) going 7 furlongs on dirt 2 starts back at Keeneland October 17 and a winner of Santa Anita’s Las Virgenes Stakes (G2) at 1 mile in her third career start, Venetian Harbor was the narrow 2/1 favorite over Superstition and paid $6.40, $3.60, and $2.60.
Owned by Ciaglia Racing, LLC, Highland Yard, LLC, River Oak Farm, and Domenic Savides, Venetian Harbor, a 4-year-old filly by Munnings out of the Street Cry mare Sounds of the City, is now 9-4-4-0 and with the winner’s share of $120,000, increased her earnings to $633,400.
“She ran the way we thought she would,” said Baltazar Marroquin, assistant to Baltas, who was out of town on Saturday. “Yes, we expected her to go to the lead. She’s run against some of the best fillies and Mario has worked her a couple of time, so he knows her.”
Next to last around the far turn, Contantia swung six-deep turning for home and was clearly second-best in a big effort. Ridden by Umberto Rispoli, Constantia was the third choice at 5/2 and paid $3.40 and $2.20.
Ridden by Abel Cedillo, Superstition emptied out chasing the winner and had to settle for third money while beaten 1 1/2 lengths by Constantia. Off at 2/1, Superstition paid $2.60 to show.
Fractions on the race were :22.48, :44.96, and 1:08.79.
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