Returning from a layoff of a bit more than two months, Sarach
, an 8-1 shot, led throughout to win the $150,750 Honeymoon Handicap Saturday at Betfair Hollywood Park.
Teaming for the first time with jockey Martin Garcia, the 3-year-old daughter of Arch and the Atticus mare Eximius made the lead without having to be urged, relaxed through moderate fractions with Macha in close pursuit, kicked clear with less than an eighth of a mile to run and went on to win by one length over 4-5 favorite Scarlet Strike.
Owned by breeders Gerard and Alain Wertheimer and trained by Hall of Famer Richard Mandella, Sarach., who paid $18, $5.80 and $3.60, completed the 1 1/8 miles on turf in the Grade II in 1:48.73. The win was her third in eight starts. She’s earned $168,742.
The win was the second in the Honeymoon for Mandella, who also won the 1993 renewal with Likeable Style. Mandella wasn’t at Betfair Hollywood Park to see Sarach’s victory as he was at the wedding of Alex Solis, Jr., the son of the jockey.
“The main thing was to break sharp,’’ said Garcia after his first Honeymoon victory. “Every time she runs, she likes to be right there. Nobody went to the lead today and it was really comfortable for her to take it. She showed what she can do.
“If they would have gone faster, she would have been right there, but like I said there was no pace and I just took advantage from there.’’
Victimized by a wide trip when second at 3-5 in the Senorita Stakes May 11, Scarlet Strike, who trailed for most of the trip, finished as best she could behind the pedestrian splits (24.09, 48.28 and 1:12.64). The Smart Strike filly won the Providencia at the same distance April 6 at Santa Anita, a Grade III in which Sarach finished fifth.
Trained by Hall of Famer Jerry Hollendorfer, who also saddled third-place finisher Macha, Scarlet Strike returned $2.60 and $2.20. Macha, who finished a half-length behind her stablemate, paid $4 to show.
“I came from behind this time because the last time I was rushing her a little,’’ said Rafael Bejarano of the runner-up. “I took her back right away today and she became very relaxed. By the half-mile I could see there was no pace and I started to move and get a little closer. In the stretch, I let her go, but it was too late.’’
Becky Lou, a 13-1 shot, finished a half-length behind Macha in fourth. Charlie Em, the winner of the Senorita and 7-2 second choice in the Honeymoon, Somethingabouther, Wittgenstein and Kyriaki completed the order of finish. Blingismything, Scooter Bird and Sweet Red Cat were scratched.
Two races before the Honeymoon, Kinz Funky Monkey
made a successful return to action, wiring seven other 3-year-old fillies in the $73,600 Manhattan Beach Stakes.
Idle since defeating maidens over Del Mar’s Polytrack last Sept. 1, the daughter of The Green Monkey was ready to roll at a healthy 15-1 in her turf debut for Always Believe, Inc. and trainer Peter Eurton.
Out of the More Than Ready mare Pretty Ready, Kinz Funky Monkey broke quickly from the inside under jockey Victor Espinoza, repelled challenges from Upbeat Mood, Disko Dasko and Tizmetizyou, then had enough left late to hold on by a half-length over 7-5 favorite Judy In Disguise.
No worse than third in three 2012 starts, Kinz Funky Monkey completed the six furlongs in 1:09.44. Her second victory increased her earnings to $108,110. She paid $33.20, $12 and $7 as the second longest shot in the field.
Shortening up after splitting the field in the Edgewood Stakes May 3 at Churchill Downs, Judy In Disguise, who added blinkers for trainer Simon Callaghan, paid $3.80 and $2.40. She finished a half-length in front of Upbeat Mood, who returned $3.80 to show.
“This filly is so fast,’’ said Eurton. “The thing I was worried most about was the rail because I knew (Upbeat Mood) was going to go. We weren’t going to go head and head with her. If she gave us the lead, fine. Otherwise, we’d at least find out if she likes turf.
“She has the pedigree for grass. Now that we know she likes it, we have some cool things for her in the future.’’