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Birdonthewire upsets La Brea

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La Brea Stakes (4:17)

Birdatthewire rallies to win the Grade 1, $300,000 La Brea Stakes at Santa Anita Park on Dec. 26, 2015. (4:17)

Forum Racing's Birdatthewire closed out her 2015 season much like she opened it, with a strong rally to win a seven-furlong graded stakes race for 3-year-old fillies.

With a determined rally near the center of the track, Birdatthewire caught Hot City Girl in deep stretch to earn the first Grade 1 victory of her career in the $301,000 La Brea Stakes Dec. 26 at Santa Anita Park.

After Hot City Girl opened a two-length lead in the stretch of the La Brea Stakes, Birdatthewire responded to urging from Racing Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith to complete a rally from last in the field of nine, seizing the lead in the final strides to secure her first Grade 1 victory.

Trained by Dale Romans, Birdatthewire completed the seven-furlong test in 1:23.31, edging Hot City Girl by a half-length.

"Before the race I thought that we might have a tough time getting there in time, since she's such a late runner and it's seven furlongs; but during the running of the race, we were already in contention at the half-mile pole," Smith said. "Daled told me that she likes to run out when she's making a run 'so just let her.' So, as long as she kept catching them, I just kept letting her run to the outside. We were way past the middle of the racetrack but she just kept running. If I try to hold her, I think it just slows her down."

Already the first graded stakes winner for her sire Summer Bird, with Saturday's win Birdatthewire becomes the first grade I winner for the 2009 Belmont Stakes winner.

Birdatthewire opened the year by rallying from 10th to win the seven-furlong Forward Gal Stakes Jan. 24 at Gulfstream Park. Two starts later she won the 1-1/16-mile Gulfstream Park Oaks but after finishing fifth in the Longines Kentucky Oaks she was rested. Birdatthewire came back in November but as the favorite in both the Chilukki Stakes and Falls City Handicap at Churchill Downs, she would finish fifth and fourth, respectively.

On Saturday Birdatthewire paid $23.80 to win, $10 to place, and $5.80 to show. Hot City Girl returned $5.40 and $3.20, and 7-5 favorite Cavorting returned $2.60 to show.

Tom Camp of Forum Racing went to $23,000 to land Birdatthewire at the 2013 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky fall yearlings sale from the consignment of Select Sales, agent.

"I think it was the perfect combination. Mike Smith is known for liking to take his horses outside, and we got out there with some room to run," Camp said. "[When we came into the stretch], I thought we had a decent chance to catch Hot City Girl."

Bred in Kentucky by Lynn and Kathy Jones, Birdatthewire is the first stakes winner out of stakes-placed Wagon Limit mare My Limit, who has produced four winners from as many starters.