Photo: Casey Phillips/Eclipse Sportswire
paper, the Grade 1 American Oaks
looked like a wide-open affair. Then the rains came. Originally carded for 1 ¼-miles
on the turf, Santa Anita kept the race on grass, but felt that nine furlongs
would be a safer proposition, rather than starting on the downhill course, and
crossing over the main track. The change, and the running on a rain-softened
course labeled as good, would not change the competitiveness of the New Year's Eve feature. In a mad dash to the wire, it was Decked Out getting up in the final stride to barely deny victory for Sassy Little Lila.
off at odds of 9-2, Decked Out assumed her usual position near the back of the
pack, under Kent Desormeaux, as the
field of twelve raced through the Southern Californian rain. Trained by the
rider’s brother, Keith Desormeaux,
Decked Out had not found the winner’s circle since catching a wet turf course,
also at nine furlongs at Santa Anita, in a graded stakes race back in April. She has often been in the mix, though, after closing strongly in a series of graded
stakes on the grass. While she waited to uncoil her best run, it was an Eastern
invader who made all the early pace.
Little Lila, coming in off four straight solid performances in New York, went
right to the lead. The lightly raced daughter of Artie Schiller never had
things easy as she carved out fractions of :22.68, :47.03, and 1:10.70. Among
those close early was the lukewarm race favorite, Stays In Vegas. While the
pace was contested in the big field, Decked Out began picking off horses on the
outside. As the American Oaks field hit the homestretch, it still looked like a
wide open race, but the pacesetter had no designs on giving up her advantage.
Stays In Vegas tried to no avail on the outside, Lady Valeur, a 17-1 longshot, scooted up the rail to challenge.
Sassy Little Lila was as game as could be though, and hung tough to her lead.
Decked Out was now flying on the outside, as the wire approached. As they hit
the finish, it was too close to call between the top two, with Lady Valeur just a
half-length farther back in third.
photo revealed a narrow victory for the late runner. Decked Out had earned her
biggest career victory by a scant nose over an unlucky loser in Sassy Little
Lila. Final time for the 1 1/8-miles over the damp Santa Anita turf was a very
been that kind of year for the Desormeaux family,” remarked the winning rider. “It
was doubtful from the quarter pole. I wasn’t getting there fast enough and I
thought I had won, but with the recent photo finishes, I was scared to have an
opinion. The end result was close, because she’s knocked on the door all year.
She’s been on the south end, and today she got on the north side. (The turf
course) has a lot of give to it. I wouldn’t call it yielding, but it’s
the Grade 1 victory, Decked Out raised her lifetime record to 16-3-2-3 for her
ownership team of Big Chief Racing, Head of Plains Partners, and Gene Voss. The
three-year-old chestnut daughter of Street Boss also raised her career earnings
the 9-2 third choice, Decked Out returned $11.00, $6.00, and $4.20 across the
board. The 7-6 exacta with the stubborn runner-up was good for $50.20, while
the trifecta was made substantial by the third-place finish of Lady Valeur,
“She was training awesome coming
into today,” revealed Keith Desormeaux. “I think a key decision was not run her
at Del Mar. We skipped a race in hopes of getting her fresh and that may have
been the winning decision.”