ARCADIA, Calif. (Dec. 26, 2014)—Sam’s Sister surged late to defeat heavily favored Taris by a half length in Friday’s Grade I, $300,000 La Brea Stakes, one of three graded events on Santa Anita’s Winter Meet opening day. Ridden by Elvis Trujillo and trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, the lightly raced Kentucky-bred filly by Brother Derek got the seven furlong distance in 1:22.52.
Off at odds of 12-1 in a field of nine 3-year-old fillies, Sam’s Sister sat mid-pack into the far turn, was caught four-wide turning for home and overtook front running Taris after tracking fractions of 21.85, 43.97 and 1:08.91.
“It’s nice to knock off a Grade I on opening day,” said Hollendorfer. “We were afraid of the one-horse (Taris), but we didn’t want to duck her. She was well meant, so I think we beat a really nice filly…We had confidence in (Sam’s Sister) from her first couple of victories. We’ve always liked her.
“I just told him (Trujillo) I thought the three path was really good today and that he had an ideal post and he should try to be there, but I think he went outside. He did a good job and the end result was good so I’m very pleased.”
Owned by Mark Dedomenico, LLC, Hollendorfer or Todaro, Sam’s Sister paid $27.00, $7.80 and $4.20. Winning for the fourth time in five starts, she picked up $180,000 for the win, which increased her earnings to $307,450. Out of the Include mare Kittery Point, Sam’s Sister provided Brother Derek, a winner of the Grade I Santa Anita Derby in 2006, with his first Grade I stakes winner.
“I had a perfect trip,” said Trujillo. “I could see there was a lot of speed in the race…Three or four horses went to the lead and I sat covered up a little bit and in the stretch…The last sixteenth, I could see Rafael (Bejarano, aboard Taris) working and I could see her tail flapping so I knew I had it. I came flying and I caught them right away.”
Taris, who came off a pair of scintillating victories at Keeneland and Presque Isle Downs in upstate Pennsylvania, broke from the rail appeared to have the La Brea in her grasp a furlong from home.
“We were feeling so much pressure,” said Rafael Bejarano, who rode Taris. “The other horse (longshot and eventual fifth place finisher, Uzziel) was chasing after me the entire race. I tried to get her to relax…but the other horse was chasing me the entire time. By the time it came to the stretch, my horse was running on empty.”
Off at 3-5, Taris finished 1 ¾ lengths in front of Thank You Marylou and paid $2.60 and $2.20.
Ridden by Joel Rosario, Thank You Marylou was last early and finished up well to run third, 4 ¼ lengths in front of longshot Ramona’s Wildcat. Off at 5-1, Thank You Marylou paid $2.80 to show.