Flashy filly Venetian Harbor rolls in Santa Anita's Las Virgenes

February 08, 2020 06:19pm
Flashy filly Venetian Harbor rolls in Santa Anita's Las Virgenes
Photo: Benoit Photo
Venetian Harbor established herself Saturday as one of California’s top 2020 Kentucky Oaks prospects, thoroughly dominating Santa Anita Park’s Grade 2, $200,000 Las Virgenes Stakes.

The Munnings filly, a 1-5 post time favorite, shot out of the gates under jockey Flavien Prat. She opened up a six-length lead while going the first quarter-mile in :23.20, then let her four rivals make up most of that margin while going the half-mile in :46.72.

Stellar Sound drew within a length of Venetian Harbor entering the far turn. Prat sat still before letting her loose heading into the stretch.

Venetian Harbor opened up her second open-lengths lead of the race, then geared down toward the finish line to score by 9 1/4. The Richard Baltas trainee covered a mile in 1:37.21 for a win that returned $2.60.

Gingham and Stellar Sound, two Bob Baffert trainees, ran second and third, respectively.

Venetian Harbor finished second on debut Nov. 15 at Del Mar, then broke her maiden by 10¾ lengths Dec. 29 at Santa Anita. Ciaglia Racing LLC, River Oak Farm and Dominic Savides campaign the filly, who earned 10 points Saturday toward the Kentucky Oaks starting gates.

“The plan was to break and just get her to relax," Baltas said. "She’s very strong and Flavien did a great job, getting her to relax. He said he was hanging on to her the whole way. It looked like at the 3/8th pole we might get passed but I was just hoping the public was right.

"I am very happy that she got the two turns, that was a little bit of a concern today. She had never been two turns and this is a tiring track. ... She delivered today."

The Las Virgenes was one of two 2020 Road to the Kentucky Oaks races Saturday, along with Tampa Bay Downs’ Suncoast Stakes, won by Lucrezia. Both those races allot points on a 10-4-2-1 basis a week before the 2020 trail’s first 50-20-10-5 event, Fair Grounds’ Rachel Alexandra (G2) on Feb. 15.

"It looks like now she may have to do some moving around, hopefully she comes back well and we will see (where we go next)," Baltas said. "She passed the first test.”


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