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Southern Fireball Elevated at Hollywood

Hollywood Park logo.
Photo: Hollywood Park

Southern Fireball remained undefeated on turf with help from the Hollywood Park stewards on Sunday as she was declared the official winner of the $66,050 Manhattan Beach Stakes after the disqualification of Repo.

Owned by King Arthur Farms, George Bolton, Michael Lewis and Robert Masters and trained by Doug O’Neill, who also trains Repo, Southern Fireball, who was ridden by Martin Garcia, had to check and alter course when trying to rally inside of Repo, who had set the pace under jockey Joel Rosario.

After losing her momentum, Southern Fireball did finish well to regain second, only a half-length behind her stablemate.

Stewards Scott Chaney, Kim Sawyer and Tom Ward ruled that Repo had cost Southern Fireball an opportunity at a better placing and made their decision to reverse the order of the first two finishers. The disqualification was the first in the Manhattan Beach, which had its 10th running Sunday.

The 2-1 second choice, Southern Fireball, a 3-year-old daughter of Southern Image and the Carson City mare Hot Moon, has won three of seven overall. She increased her earnings to $102,021. The final time for the six furlongs on turf was 1:10.72. Southern Fireball paid $6.80, $3.60 and $3.

“It’s very difficult when there is an inquiry between your own two horses because there is two different parties involved,’’ said Leandro Mora, O’Neill’s assistant trainer. “One is going to be happy and the other is going to be unhappy. For a trainer or an assistant trainer it is a little uncomfortable. I thought the disqualification was a very tough call for the stewards.’’

The win was the third of the day for Garcia, who is fourth in the Hollywood Park standings behind Rafael Bejarano, who also won three times on Sunday, Tyler Baze and Rosario.

“I told the stewards that I had a place to go on the inside and that (Repo) came in and intimidated my filly really bad,’’ said Garcia. “After that, I took her to the outside and she still ran second. She was definitely the best horse. If I would have gotten through, she would have won easily.’’

A California bred daughter of In Excess and the Walter Willy mare Miss Nicolie owned by J. Paul Reddam, Repo, the 3-1 third choice, returned $4 and $3.80. Got An Itch, who entered having won two in a row at Turf Paradise, paid $4.80. She crossed the wire a head behind Southern Fireball.

“I was in front of (Southern Fireball),’’ said Rosario. “She didn’t have anywhere to go. I thought I had her in tight, but I didn’t interfere with her.’’

Washington Bridge, Come Home Quick, Pincelada, the 8-5 favorite, and Five Silver Stars completed the order of finish.



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