Teddy’s Promise, a California-bred daughter of Salt Lake who
previously had been walloped by a combined 65 ¼ lengths in three
relatively minor stakes tries, turned Santa Anita’s Grade I La Brea
Stakes for 3-year-old fillies on its ear Saturday.
Not only did she record a stunning 16-1 upset in the prestigious
$300,000 event after coming off a pair of optional claiming event
victories, Teddy’s Promise did it with authority under jockey Victor
Espinoza. The winning margin over Sugarinthemorning was 2 ¼ lengths. The
final time was a sprightly 1:20.47.
And in the process, Teddy’s Promise dashed whatever hope 1-2
favorite Turbulent Descent might have had of winning an Eclipse Award as
champion female sprinter of 2011. The three-time Grade I winner made
little impact while winding up sixth in the field of nine.
being turned over to trainer Ron Ellis by owners Ed and Judy Nichols,
Teddy’s Promise has steadily blossomed. “The last time she ran, I really
liked her,” Espinoza said in the La Brea Stakes winner’s circle.
“Today, I thought she was ready, and I thought she would like it better
over here on the dirt. I had so much horse today I wasn’t expecting
anybody to come near me. She’s a runner.”
“It’s hard to be very confident against Turbulent Descent, but I
knew she was doing great” said Ellis. “I actually asked the owners if
they wanted to scratch and run tomorrow (Teddy’s Promise also was
nominated to Sunday’s $75,000 Kalookan Queen Handicap) because I knew we
could win tomorrow, but they wanted to go for the big show, and I
couldn’t argue with them.”
The winner stalked early leaders Home Sweet Aspen and California
Nectar. She assumed command at the quarter pole. Espinoza never used
his whip. Teddy’s Command dominated under an energetic hand ride.
Sugarinthemorning, also sent off at odds of 16-1 while ridden by
Garrett Gomez, finished 1 ¾ lengths ahead of third-place Great Hot at
8-1 with Chantal Sutherland aboard. Some unusual payoffs resulted with
Turbulent Descent off the board. Teddy’s Promise paid $35, $14.20 and
$21.20. Sugarinthemorning returned $14.40 and $25.80. The show price on
Great Hot was $11.40.
The winning purse of $180,000 exceeded the previous earnings of
Teddy’s Promise in 12 races: $170,808. Her total bankroll became
$350,808 from a 5-2-1 mark in 13 starts.
Mike Puype, who trains Turbulent Descent, acknowledged that his
six-time winner did not break alertly. “She was behind a little further
than normal,” he said, “and behind all the field. She had to circle
everyone and went wide. I mean really wide. But she still didn’t kick it
in, and the track’s very fast so it’s hard to make up that ground once
you’re in that position. She didn’t kick it in like she’s capable of, so
I’ll just have to go over her well physically and see where we’re at.”
“This was a rough trip, what can I say?” commented David Flores,
the regular rider of Turbulent Descent. “The horse felt great, but it
was too much to make up.”