was successful in her United States debut, upsetting 3-5 favorite Scarlet Strike to win the $100,500 Senorita Stakes Saturday at Betfair Hollywood Park.
Making her first start for trainer Paddy Gallagher after being purchased by Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, the 3-year-old daughter of Kheleyf out of the Pivotal mare Miss Meggy held on by a head over Scarlet Strike in the Grade III.
Idle since finishing third in a $25,700 stakes at Hanover in Germany last Nov. 4, Charlie Em, the 9-1 fourth choice in the field of seven, was closest to pacesetter Disko Dasko for most of the trip, gained a slight advantage early in the stretch and went on to the narrow victory under strong handling by jockey Garrett Gomez. It was the third Senorita win for Gomez, whose earlier victories came back-to-back – Fantastic Filly (2001) and Adoration (2002).
The win was the fourth in nine starts for Charlie Em, who was bred in Great Britain by Highfield Farm LLP. The $60,000 payday almost quadrupled what she had earned last year in Europe. She’s now banked $76,678.
Completing the mile on turf in 1:35.18, Charlie Em, who was racing on Lasix for the first time, paid $21.40, $6.20 and $4.60.
“I’ve had her since November or December,’’ said Gallagher, who also won the 2007 Senorita with Valbenny. “It took her a little while, but she came around in the last five weeks. She got rid of her winter coat and started acting and training nice. She breezed a couple of times on the grass here and seemed to go nice.’’
Aron Wellman, the president of Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, said Charlie Em could return in the $150,000 Honeymoon Handicap, a Grade II at 1 1/8 miles on turf that will be run for the 62nd time June 8.
The 1-2 choice on the strength of her consistency and a victory in the Grade III Providencia Stakes April 6 at Santa Anita, Scarlet Strike was wide throughout and just missed under top weight of 121 pounds. She returned $2.20 and $2.10 while finishing 1 ¼ lengths in front of 11-1 shot Kyriaki. The show price on Kyriaki, who edged Need You Now by a nose, was $4.20. Lilbourne Eliza, the 4-1 second choice, was fifth in front of Disko Dasko and Showgirl Form. Sweet Red Cat was scratched.
“I tried to get in, but they kept pushing me out a little bit,’’ said Rafael Bejarano of his trip aboard Scarlet Strike. “From the outside post, I had to go wide. There really wasn’t much I could do.’’
In Saturday’s supporting feature, the $71,850 Came Home Stakes, Let Em Shine
rolled to another easy victory – his third in succession – for owner William Peeples and trainer Adam Kitchingman.
Making his second start at Betfair Hollywood Park – he finished third in his career debut behind Hear the Ghost and Battled last Dec. 15 – the speedy son of Songandaprayer dominated four other 3-year-olds under jockey Edwin Maldonado.
Away alertly from the inside post, Let Em Shine, the 11-10 favorite, esatablished a sizable lead early, got a breather midway through the seven furlongs, then drew off again to win by 4 ¾ lengths.
Out of the Johannesburg mare Justaspell, Let Em Shine, who paid $4.20, $2.80 nd $2.20, has earned his three victories – in four starts – by a combined 16 ½ lengths. He’s banked $116,910.
“I think by far he’s the fastest horse out of the gate that I’ve ridden and the fastest all around,’’ said Maldonado. “We worked him a mile twice and got him to settle a little bit.
“(Kitchingman) does a great job with this horse. He spends a lot of time with him and it paid off. We were a little concerned about the seven furlongs, but it was nothing to him. He answered a lot of questions today.’’
The win was the fourth for the Maldonado-Kitchingman combination this week at Betfair Hollywood Park. The pair won the first three races Thursday.
Kitchingman indicated the primary goal for Let Em Shine at this point is the $500,000 Foxwoods King’s Bishop, a Grade I for 3-year-olds at seven furlongs Aug. 24 at Saratoga.
Broadway Empire, making his California debut after breaking into the game with a 16 ½ length victory against maidens March 18 at Turf Paradise, finished second, one length in front of 5-2 second choice Treasury Bill. Broadway Empire returned $4.40 and $2.60 while the show price on Treasury Bill was $2.20.
Completing the order of finish were Belvin and 2012 Hollywood Juvenile Championship winner Scherer Magic, who was making his first start of the year for owners Gary and Cecil Barber and trainer John Sadler.