War Heroine improves turf record in Del Mar's San Clemente Stakes

July 15, 2018 08:59pm

War Heroine improved her turf record Saturday at Del Mar, taking the Grade 2, $200,000 San Clemente Stakes in gate-to-wire fashion.

“She’s got a big heart and a lot of speed,” said winning trainer Peter Miller. “I didn’t think we’d be on the lead and I told [jockey] Tyler [Baze] she doesn’t need to be, but if they give it to you take it. He rode a super race, got reasonable fractions and she really kicked home strong.”

Although War Heroine was a 6 ¾-length debut winner on dirt, her real success has come over the California turf. The 3-year-old filly finished out of the money in the Grade 2 Santa Ynez and the Busher Stakes on the Kentucky Oaks trail this year, but found wins in the Sweet Life Stakes and an allowance optional claiming, both on Santa Anita’s downhill turf.

In the pink silks of Gary Barber, War Heroine broke sharp from post 10 on the turf, taking the lead over favorite Ms Bad Behavior from post 2. Ms Bad Behavior, runner-up in the Grade 3 Providencia Stakes last out, finished second behind War Heroine in February’s Sweet Life before winning her first stakes in the China Doll. War Heroine was also under the threat of Ollie’s Candy, who entered the San Clemente undefeated in three starts. After racing on the all weather surface at Golden Gate Fields, Ollie’s Candy took to dirt and won the Grade 2 Summertime Oaks at Santa Anita Park.

While War Heroine opened a swift first quarter-mile in :22.85, Ollie’s Candy sat mid-pack for the first time. Though normally near the pace, post 14 made it difficult to reach the front in her turf debut. War Heroine slowed down the following quarter, hitting the half-mile in :46.86 before rounding the turn in 1:10.67.

The leader had the advantage on the rail and though Ms Bad Behavior kept fighting, War Heroine held the lead. Ollie’s Candy had a lot of ground to make up and made a big run, but ultimately had to settle for her first defeat. War Heroine was too game to lose, finishing off the mile in 1:34.90 a neck in front. Ms Bad Behavior held for third another neck back.

“She’s an extremely fast filly; extremely fast,” Baze said of War Heroine. “But it isn’t so much about the speed, it’s about how they’re expanding their energy. She was doing it well today.  I knew she was good for a mile; she’s all heart. She loves to stick her neck out and win. She’s tough.”

As for the next spot, the Grade 1, $300,000 Del Mar Oaks on Aug. 18 looks likely, where War Heroine could have a rematch with Ollie’s Candy and Ms Bad Behavior at the 1 1/8-miles distance.

“I see no reason not to try her in the Del Mar Oaks,” Miller said. “I think that’s the move and that’s what we’ll do.”


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