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ARCADIA, CA – Ben and Sally Warren homebred Warren’s Showtime stretched out impressively over the dirt to defeat fellow California-bred 3-year-old fillies in Sunday’s $150,000 Melair Stakes at Santa Anita Park.
Breaking from the far outside post 6 under Jorge Velez as the 4/1 third choice, Warren’s Showtime was forced to steady slightly and run wide through the clubhouse turn due to her inside rivals Smiling Shirlee and Homehome knocking into each other.
The longshot Reiwa tried to steal it on the front end, posting opening fractions of :23.75, :47.47, and 1:12.26 before Big Sweep and Smiling Shirlee overtook her in the far turn. Warren’s Showtime was just behind them and straightened for home full of run.
Velez let Warren’s Showtime roll in the stretch, and she responded by taking command and holding sway by 1 length. The Craig Lewis trainee completed the 1 1/16-mile fast dirt route in 1:44.29.
“I ride this filly very comfortably; she did a good job,” Velez said. “I feel really happy and I’m very grateful to Craig Lewis, the owners, and all the guys at the barn doing a really good job with the horses.”
Smiling Shirlee was unable to hold off the eventual winner, but she did outkick the 4/5 favorite Big Sweep by 3 1/4 lengths. Homehome was a head behind Big Sweep for fourth.
After the race, jockey Mario Gutierrez lodged a complating against Mike Smith aboard Smiling Shirlee for the aforementioned clubhouse turn interference. The stewards also hung the inquiry sign, but upon further review, determined that Smiling Shirlee veered out into Homehome in order to avoid clipping heels with Reiwa. No change was made to the original order of finish.
Kristi’s Tiger had no rally when the real running began and only beat Reiwa, who weakened steadily once headed before completing the order of finish.
Warren’s Showtime’s win was her first on dirt and followed turf stakes scores in the China Doll, the California Cup Oaks, and the Surfer Girl – all at Santa Anita Park. The 3-year-old Clubhouse Ride filly improved her record to 10-5-0-3 with $412,251 earned.
“How sweet it is,” Lewis said. “She was much the best today. She was forced wide into the first turn and lost ground turning for home. I just talked to Ben up in Vegas and he’s elated. We’ve got her mother (Warren’s Veneda) back in foal to Clubhouse Ride and she’s got a yearling full brother and a Clubhouse filly by her side. This stud has been absolutely amazing; these foals are sound, versatile, and they can really run. He was bred to 100 mares this year, so we feel really good about that.”
Warren’s Showtime returned $10.60 to win, $3.60 to place, and $2.20 to show. Smiling Shirlee brought back $2.80 to place and $2.10 to show, while Big Sweep paid $2.10 to show.
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