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ARCADIA, CA – Ciaglia Racing, Highland Yard, and River Oak Farm’s Venetian Harbor turned Saturday’s $200,000 Las Virgenes Stakes (G2) at Santa Anita Park into a complete laugher while giving her second straight eye-popping performance for trainer Richard Baltas.
Breaking from post 4 under Flavien Prat as the 1/5 favorite, Venetian Harbor outkicked Cholula Lips to secure command lead heading into the clubhoues turn. While Prat kept her under a tight hold down the backstretch, Venetian Harbor posted opening fractions of :23.20, :46.72, and 1:11.74.
Heading into the far turn, Stellar Sound began closing the gap, bringing her Bob Baffert stablemate Gingham along for the ride. At the top of the stretch, however, Prat gave his filly the green light, and she responded authoritatively.
Drawing away sharply in the stretch, Venetian Harbor was geared down to a jog as she crossed the wire 9 1/4 lengths clear in a final time of 1:37.51 for the mile-long event over the fast main track.
“She broke sharp and put us in a great position very easily,” Prat said. “We got a breather around the (far) turn; she grabbed the bit and really ran well from there.”
Gingham outfinished Stellar Sound by 2 1/4 lengths for second, while Go Big Blue Nation and Cholula Lips were strung out behind them to complete the order of finish.
The Las Virgenes is part of the Road to the 2020 Kentucky Oaks prep race season. Venetian Harbor earned 10 points for the win, with Gingham receiving 4 for second, Stellar Sound 2 for third, and Go Big Blue Nation 1 for fourth.
Venetian Harbor’s performance mirrored her maiden-breaking effort last out when she rolled to a 10 3/4-length local score while going 6 furlongs. The 3-year-old daughter of Munnings now sports a record of 3-2-1-0 with $163,400 earned.
“I am very happy that she got the two turns; that was a little bit of a concern today,” Baltas said. “She had never been two turns and this is a tiring track. She delivered today. It looks like now she may have to do some moving around; hopefully she comes back well and we will see (where we go next). She passed the first test.”
Venetian Harbor returned $2.60 to win, $2.20 to place, and $2.10 to show. Gingham brought back $2.80 to place and $2.10 to show, while Stellar Sound paid $2.20 to show.
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