DEL MAR, CA – Gary Barber’s War Heroine had to use every ounce of energy to do so, but she dug in to hold off all challengers and wire Saturday’s Grade 2, $200,000 San Clemente Stakes at Del Mar.
Breaking well from post 10 under Tyler Baze, War Heroine shot out to the front and beat the 5-2 favorite Ms Bad Behavior to the lead heading into the first turn. After setting an opening 1/4-mile in :22.85 in order to take a clear lead, War Heroine relaxed and hit the next two splits in :46.86 and 1:10.67. As the field began to quicken through the far turn, War Heroine emerged with a small lead on Ms Bad Behavior. The favored foe began slowly cutting into her lead, but War Heroine dug in and then repelled a last-second surge from Ollie’s Candy to take her first career graded event by a neck in a final time of 1:34.90 for the mile-long turf event.
“She’s an extremely fast filly; extremely fast,” Baze said. “But it isn’t so much about the speed, it’s about how they’re expanding their energy. She was doing it well today. I knew she was good for a mile; she’s all heart. She loves to stick her neck out and win. She’s tough.”
Caught late, Ms Bad Behavior crossed in third by just another neck in a three-way photo finish. Ahimsa took fourth in another photo by a head over Flammetta, while Animosity took sixth by a 1/2-length and a nose over West Palm Beach and Ms Peintour, respectively. Miss Sienna, Lexington Grace, Dulce Ride, Rockin Ready, and Pursuing The Dream completed the order of finish. Streak of Luck was scratched.
War Heroine’s win was her second stakes score, following the $75,000 Sweet Life Stakes down the Santa Anita hillside turf course. The Peter Miller-trained 3-year-old daughter of Lonhro now has an overall record of 6-4-0-0 with career earnings of $240,945.
“She reminds me a lot of Belvoir Bay; small but mighty,” Miller said. “She’s got a big heart and a lot of speed. I didn’t think we’d be on the lead and I told Tyler she doesn’t need to be, but if they give it to you, take it. He rode a super race, got reasonable fractions, and she really kicked home strong. I see no reason not to try her in the (Grade 1) Del Mar Oaks. I think that’s the move and that’s what we’ll do.”
War Heroine returned $13.80 to win, $7.80 to place, and $4.80 to show. Ollie’s Candy brought back $8.60 to place and $5 to show, while Ms Bad Behavior paid $3.20 to show.