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All Star Heart Makes Grade in Las Palmas

Gaining her fourth victory in her last five starts, rapidly ascending 4-year-old filly All Star Heart gained her first graded stakes win Sunday with a dominant triumph in Santa Anita’s 42nd running of the Grade II, $150,000 Las Palmas Stakes for fillies and mares at one mile on turf.

Under the direction of jockey Brice Blanc, All Star Heart made a swooping move rounding the far turn to advance from fifth to first by the time the field of five had straightened away in midstretch.

The winning margin was two lengths over City to City, with Garrett Gomez aboard, as All Star Heart ran the distance in 1:35.74 over a course labeled “good.” Rain earlier in the day reduced the field size from eight with three late scratches. The Las Palmas climaxed Santa Anita’s 24-day Autumn Meet.

Sarah’s Secret finished third, another three-quarters of a length back with Rafael Bejarano aboard three races after he had broken a tie with Joel Rosario for the Autumn Meet’s riding title. When Rosario finished fourth aboard 7-5 favorite Malibu Pier in the Las Palmas, it sealed his competition with Bejarano, who emerged with a 32-31 advantage.

“It was a very tough competition, but I’m really happy,” said Bejarano, who had missed his first scheduled mount after a flight delay while returning from Saturday’s Breeders’ Cup riding activities in Louisville, Ky. “I had good luck,” he added.

If Bejarano encountered travel difficulties returning from Kentucky, Blanc had a smooth journey in the Las Palmas. “I had a beautiful trip,” he said. “I just followed Malibu Pier all the way around, which was pretty much my strategy.

“My filly relaxed really nice and did what I wanted her to do at the top of the lane and I was able to outkick her (Malibu Pier). She has a tremendous finish. She’s a big, strong filly who can cover a lot of ground.”

Blanc is well familiar with Malibu Pier. He had ridden the Spendthrift Farm filly in her five previous starts. The ride aboard All Star Heart was his eighth straight for Hall of Fame trainer Ron McAnally.

McAnally said he was mildly concerned Sunday when he saw City to City go past All Star Heart nearing the far turn. “’Oh, no,’ I said, “but then I knew we had plenty left when Brice hadn’t even asked her yet.” Added McAnally, “It’s good to get that graded status on her resume.”

As the 5-2 second choice in the wagering, All Star Heart paid $7.20, $3.60 and $2.80. City to City paid $4.20 and $2.80. The show payoff on Sarah’s Secret was $3.

Owned and bred by Gerald Gibbs, of Richmond Hill, Ontario, Canada, Ontario-bred All Star Heart earned $90,000. The winning purse brought her career earnings to $261,705 from a record of 5-1-1 in 15 starts.



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