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Pontchatrain Takes Off in Monrovia

Pontchatrain wins 2014 Monrovia.
Favored Pontchatrain overcame a rough start to win Sunday’s Grade II, $200,000 Monrovia Stakes for older fillies and mares by three quarters of a length, overhauling pacesetter Kindle and Rafael Bejarano inside the sixteenth pole while covering 6 ½ furlongs down Santa Anita’s hillside turf course in 1:11.14.

Idle since winning the Grade III Senator Ken Maddy down the hill Nov. 2, Pontchatrain, conditioned by Tom Proctor, notched her third consecutive hillside stakes win under Stevens.

“Tyler’s filly (Baze, on Camryn Kate) must have jumped in a little bit because my filly’s right rear went down for two strides,” said Stevens.  “She got right back up underneath me but I thought she might have grabbed a quarter, it was pretty severe.

“But then, boom, she just took off.  I even asked Amy (Dollase, assistant to Proctor) when we came back to check her right hind and she said that the shoe had ‘sprung.’  It almost would have been better if it came off completely.  It’s not often that happens…She’s got a great turn of foot and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Tom stretch her out at some point.”

The even money favorite in the seven-horse Monrovia, Pontchatrain, despite the troubled beginning, was into contention early and was second, one length Kindle, when they crossed the dirt at the top of the lane.

When asked about the trouble at the start and whether it had any bearing on the outcome, Proctor stated, “No, I guess not.”

Proctor, who won his 1,000th career race on Saturday at Tampa Bay Downs, has been battling a bout of the flu.

“I’ve been deathly ill all week,” he said.  “I didn’t think I was going to make it to 1,000—I thought I was going to die first.”

Owned by Leonard Lavin’s Glen Hill Farm, Pontchatrain, a 4-year-old Kentucky-bred filly by War Front, paid $4.20, $2.40 and $2.10.

A winner of the Unzip Me Stakes down the hill on Sept. 28, Pontchatrain now has five wins from seven starts and with the $120,000 from today’s Monrovia, she has earnings of $324,882.

Second in last year’s Monrovia, the ultra-quick Kindle had been idle since running third in the Grade II Santa Monica Stakes Jan. 26.

“I’d have to be happy with that,” said Kindle’s trainer, Gary Mandella.  “She ran eleven flat off an 11-month layoff so how could you be disappointed with that…The obvious thing would be to keep her in races like this but the next race isn't until April, so what we do in between now and then, I’m not quite sure.”

The second choice at 2-1, Kindle broke from the rail and finished 1 ¼ lengths clear of Proctor’s other runner, Purim’s Dancer.  Kindle paid $3.20 and $2.60.

“She’s so fast,” said Bejarano, who was aboard Kindle for the first time in the Monrovia.  “We went 22 and change (opening quarter in 22.08) and I had a hold of her.  When we crossed the dirt, I had to let her go.  The winner is a really nice filly.  My horse ran good.”

Purim’s Dancer, ridden by Joe Talamo, sat third early and stayed on the rail to the wire, finishing third, three quarters of a length in front of European import Ultrasonic, with Mike Smith up.

Off at 11-1, Purim’s Dancer paid $3.60 to show.

There is a Pick Six carryover into Thursday of $87,195, and it is expected Thursday’s total pool will exceed $500,000.  First post time for an eight race card is at 1 p.m.



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