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More Chocolate Handles Dirt in La Canada

In her first main track try, the John Sadler-trained More Chocolate, with Garrett Gomez at the controls, was able to ration her considerable speed as she charged to a 1 ¾ length victory in Sunday’s Grade II, $150,000 La Canada Stakes for 4-year-old fillies getting a mile and a sixteenth in 1:42.59.

“She was relaxed going into the first turn then she jumped up in the bridle on me,” said Gomez. “I didn’t want to get into a wrestling match with her so I let her be. She settled into a good rhythm going down the backside. I haven’t had a horse turn for home like she did for me in a long time.”

An allowance winner going 1 1/8 miles on turf at Santa Anita on Nov. 1, More Chocolate pressed the pace in the Grade III Robert J. Frankel Stakes at the same distance and finished third, beaten 2 ½ lengths.

In the La Canada, she pulled Gomez into contention rounding the Club House turn and sat second to Willa B Awesome and Martin Pedroza through fractions of 24.34 and 48.03. More Chocolate got the six furlongs in 1:12 flat and the mile in 1:36.31 and was not seriously challenged through the lane. Book Review, the 7-5 second choice with Rafael Bejarano, ran second, 2 ¼ lengths in front of 11-1 shot Willa B Awesome.

Off at 5-1, More Chocolate paid $12.60, $5.40 and $4.00.

“We wanted to try her on the dirt,” said Sadler. “It’s the last chance to run her with her own age group…We thought we might be back a little further, but with a 48 half, I felt good with where we were sitting. We’re going to look at the Santa Margarita (Grade I, $300,000 at 1 1/8 miles for older fillies and mares on March 16), that’s for sure.”

Owned by Michael Talla, More Chocolate, a Kentucky-bred filly by Malibu Moon, improved her record to 8-3-1-1 and with the winner’s share of $90,000 nearly doubled her earnings to $182,790.

Book Review, who had a clean trip and no apparent excuses, paid $3.20 and $2.40. Willa B Awesome paid $4.20 to show.

The Jerry Hollendorfer-trained Lady of Fifty, the 6-5 favorite Martin Garcia, had little punch through the lane and finished fourth, beaten a neck by Willa B Awesome.

No one hit the Pick Six at Santa Anita on Sunday, resulting in a carryover of $101,931 into Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Monday. It is expected that the total Pick Six pool on Monday will exceed $750,000.


 

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