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Spellbound Storms Home in La Canada

Spellbound wins 2014 La Canada.
Sent from the gate, 6-5 favorite Broken Sword set a fast early pace, setting up the late run of 16-1 longshot Spellbound, who was dead last, 17 lengths off the lead in a field of seven past the half mile pole and rallied four-wide at the quarter to get up and win Sunday’s Grade II, $200,000 La Canada Stakes by a neck under Victor Espinoza, negotiating 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.14.

Trained by Richard Mandella, Spellbound was taken in hand out of the gate and loped along comfortably while well behind fractions of 22.86, 45.47, 1:09.66 and 1:36.38.

“I knew they were going fast on the front-end, but I just wanted to focus on my own filly,” said Espinoza.  “I wanted her to be happy and I wanted to enjoy the ride…Turning for home, I knew we had a lot of ground to make up and the wire was getting closer and closer…She’s so big, I think she’s much better on the dirt rather than synthetic.”

Beaten 12 ½ lengths by Broken Sword in the Grade II Bayakoa Stakes run on synthetic Cushion Track Dec. 7 at Hollywood Park, Spellbound was two for three on natural dirt coming into the La Canada, a race restricted to fillies four years of age.

A 4-year-old Kentucky-bred filly by Bernardini, Spellbound paid $35.00, $12.80 and $7.80.  Owned by Ramona Bass, Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider, Spellbound picked up $120,000 for the win, increasing her earnings to $208,750.  She now has three wins from eight starts.

As has become customary in Santa Anita’s graded stakes this winter, training titans Jerry Hollendorfer and Bob Baffert were both represented by a pair of runners, each with different styles.

The outcome of the race was no doubt shaped in great part by the fact Broken Sword, breaking from post five with Rafael Bejarano, broke sharply inward leaving the gate, interfering with 6-5 second choice Fiftyshadesofhay, a dedicated front-runner trained by Baffert and ridden by Mike Smith.

For his part, Smith, who was forced to check sharply out of the gate, downplayed the incident.

“It cost me the race, but we probably caused our own trouble to be honest with you,” said Smith.  “She (Fiftyshadesofhay) needs to stand a little better in there.”

Next-to-last going into the Club House turn, Fiftyshadesofhay rallied determinedly to run fourth, beaten about a length, while Broken Sword, who was pressed by Baffert’s other runner, Ondine, with Martin Garcia up, tired badly to finish fifth, beaten 7 ½ lengths.

When asked if the fast early pace surprised him, Hollendorfer responded, “No. Not at all.”

Let Faith Arise, a deep closer trained by Hollendorfer and ridden by Corey Nakatani at odds of 14-1, set sail after Broken Sword and Ondine around the far turn and overtook a tiring Ondine in the shadow of the wire only to be tagged on the money by the winner.

Let Faith Arise paid $11.80 and $7.00.

Ondine, who drew even with Broken Sword at the five sixteenths pole, ran a remarkable race, overtaking the tiring favorite at the quarter pole and proving game to the wire, finishing third, beaten a pair of necks.  She paid $4.60 to show.

There is a Pick Six carryover into Monday, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, of $94,233.  It is expected Monday’s total Pick Six pool will exceed $500,000.




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