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La Sombre Thumps Rivals on Hillside Course

Scratched from last Sunday’s one mile, $100,000 Valentine Dancer Stakes to run in Friday’s $70,150 Aristotle Purse, La Sombre enhanced her reputation for consistency with a clear-cut victory as the odds-on favorite in the competition for fillies and mares at 6 ½ furlongs over Santa Anita’s hillside turf course.


Under a vigorous hand ride by Martin Garcia, the 5-year-old California-bred daughter of Unusual Heat defeated 7-2 second-choice Lofty Ambition by 1 ½ lengths while running the distance in 1:12.66. Longshot There Is No Limit finished third, another 2 ¼ lengths back in the field of 10.


La Sombre thus maintained her record of never having finished worse than second while victorious in her eighth career start for trainer Brian Koriner and owners Eagle Oak Ranch and A. Venneri Racing.


“I think we did the right thing in scratching from the other race,” Koriner said in the winner’s circle. “We got the win today.”


It was the third of La Sombre’s career and followed a smashing 6 ¼-length score in her first try over the downhill course while going wire-to-wire on Jan. 12.


This time, she was taken back just off a swift early pace set by Sarasota Sunshine while racing along the rail. Garcia moved La Sombre to the outside for clear sailing as the field moved into the stretch. When set down, the chestnut mare burst clear.


“She’s come from off the pace before,” noted Koriner. “She can do it either way.”


La Sombre returned $3.80, $2.60 and $2.60 for her victory. Lofty Ambition, ridden by Rafael Bejarano, paid $3.80 and $3.20. The show price on There Is No Limit, with Edwin Maldonado aboard, was $11.60.


The winning purse of $45,240 elevated the career earnings of La Sombre to $179,340. She raced only once as a 3-year-old before competing five times last year. “She’s just needed time,” Koriner said. “She had little problems behind. Hopefully, we’re on our way.” The trainer mentioned the $100,000 Irish O’Brien Stakes for Cal-breds over the hillside turf course on March 17 as a future possibility for La Sombre.


Despite wins by two favorites including La Sombre on Friday, there were no winners in the Pick Six with a carryover of $65,342 going into Saturday’s 10-race program that includes three Grade II stakes races: the Strub, Robert B. Lewis and Arcadia Stakes. First post is at 12:30 p.m.




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