The beaten favorite in her two previous starts, City to City finally
got the money by a desperate head over Up In Time Monday in a driving
finish to climax Santa Anita’s Grade II, $150,000 Buena Vista Handicap
after covering the one mile on turf in 1:34.19.
With Corey Nakatani aboard for the first time in the 5-year-old
mare’s 24-race career, City to City charged to a narrow lead in deep
stretch before stoutly resisting the closing bid by Up In Time and
jockey Brice Blanc on the extreme outside. It was another half-length
back to Wild Mia and David Flores in the blanket finish.
After failing as the 9-5 favorite in Santa Anita’s Grade II
Robert J. Frankel Stakes on New Year’s Day and as the 8-5 choice in
Hollywood Park’s Grade II Bayakoa Handicap one month before, City to
City was dismissed at odds of 8-1 on Presidents’ Day.
The public was torn among splashy Chilean import Vamo a Galupiar
(3-1 favorite), British newcomer Strawberrydaiquiri (3-1) and Irish-bred
Grade I winner Cambina (7-2), whose odds continually fluctuated.
City to City, meanwhile, was looking for her second stakes
victory in 13 starts -- after a span that included losing by one length
or less on six occasions -- and her first since taking the Grade II
Palomar Handicap on Sept. 5 at Del Mar. She gained little attention this
Nakatani kept the City Zip mare, co-owned by Hall of Fame
trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, in the clear while running in mid-pack
during the early going. He moved his mare three wide rounding the final
turn to finally overtake Strawberrydaiquiri. The latter quickly dropped
back to fourth. She was immediately followed across the line by Cambina
and Vamo a Galupiar.
“We were hoping that there would be some legitimate pace in the
race, and in a mile race, there always is,” said Nakatani. “This filly
was doing fabulous coming into the race. I couldn’t have been in a
better spot, and the way the race developed was perfect.”
Nakatani felt certain his mount had crossed the finish line
first. “But Brice’s horse was flying at me,” he added, “and I wasn’t
sure if we would hold on. When that filly came to her, she (City to
City) actually started to run again. I just made sure I had enough horse
to get to the position I wanted to be in, and she ran a big race.”
Assistant trainer Dan Ward, deputizing for Hollendorfer, thought
a shift in weights proved beneficial. City to City carried 119 pounds
on Monday after having shouldered 123 in the Frankel. “She was carrying
five pounds more than anybody else in the Frankel and that makes a big
difference,” noted Ward.
Those who retained faith in City to City were rewarded with
payoffs of $19, $7 and $5.20. Up In Time returned $9 and $6.20. Wild Mia
paid $5.80 to show. The victory was worth $90,000 to Hollendorfer and
partners William DeBurgh and Mark DeDomenico. The winning purse boosted
City to City’s career earnings to $509,491 from an overall record of
7-5-5 in 24 races.
According to Ward, the Grade II, $150,000 Santa Ana Stakes at 1
1/8 miles on March 15 and the Grade II, $150,000 Santa Barbara Stakes at
the same distance on April 21 would be considered for future starts for
the Buena Vista winner.