RODEO DRIVE S. | PURSE: $250,000 | 3-YEAR-OLDS & UP | FILLIES & MARES | GRADE 1 | 1 1/4 MILES
Glen Hill Farm's Marketing Mix was the class of the field in Saturday's Grade 1, $250,000 Rodeo Drive at Santa Anita, and it showed. Rallying from well off a blistering speed duel, the even-money favorite drew off imperiously and stamped herself as the leading domestic hope for the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf.
Marketing Mix was earning a well-deserved first Grade 1 win, as well as an automatic berth to the Filly & Mare Turf, to be held over this same course and 1 1/4-mile distance. Under its former moniker, the Yellow Ribbon, this prep race hasn't yet yielded a winner in that Breeders' Cup event, but the new name -- and a powerhouse winner -- could spark better fortunes.
The only rival close to Marketing Mix in the betting was Let's Go Cheyenne, the 7-2 second choice, who showed her customary early speed. But in the process, she hooked up with the 43-1 Vivo Per Lei, and a pace war broke out. The two raced through an opening quarter in :23 3/5, and as they tore off through fractions of :45 3/5 and 1:09 3/5, they opened up a double-digit lead on the rest of the field.
Marketing Mix was beautifully settled just about in midpack by Garrett Gomez, and he drove her onward nearing the final turn, just as the tiring leaders were coming back to earth. Sling-shotting around them turning for home, the Tom Proctor filly quickened stylishly and delivered the coup de grace. Nereid closed well herself, but was no match for the winner.
Geared down in the final strides, Marketing Mix coasted home by 2 1/4 lengths from the gallant Nereid. The final time was a sprightly 1:59 1/5, followed by payouts of $4, $2.80 and $2.40.
"You never know how things are actually going to set up in a race," Gomez said. "I know this mare; she's really handy about what needs to be done at certain parts of the race. She's just pure class. She was able to listen to what I was asking of her. I saw the two leaders hook up early on. They opened up six or seven on us, and I was using the next two horses as my cover but they just couldn't keep up.
"I enjoy using my cover to pull me to the leader, but I ended being the one that was starting to pull the rest of them along. I don't like to do that too much, but you can do that when you have a quality horse, and she's a quality horse. She proved it today."
Nereid's connections were happy with her performance.
"She ran a terrific race and we're very pleased with her race," trainer John Shirreffs said. "She got into stride and she was able to kick at the end, which is very important for turf racing. That was big for her today."
"She was just a very, very nice filly to ride," said Rosie Napravnik, who made a rare trip out west Saturday. "I came from a little bit of a challenging post position on the outside and she was very easy to maneuver into a good spot. She responded when I needed to wait and when I needed to go, and she pushed her way through the horses and finished excellent."
Stormy Lucy reported home another 2 1/4 lengths adrift in third. Camelia Rose took the fourth spot, and completing the order of finish were My Gi Gi, I Dazzle, Go Forth North, Let's Go Cheyenne, Left a Message, City to City, Thisismystage, Vivo Per Lei and Cambina.
Marketing Mix's scorecard now stands at 15-8-3-1, $1,299,518. After placing in last year's Fury Stakes and Woodbine Oaks on Polytrack, the Medaglia d'Oro filly improved markedly once Proctor transferred her to the turf. She rolled in the Wonder Where by 4 3/4 lengths in her first try on the surface, and added the Grade 3 Pucker Up by 3 1/4 lengths. Runner-up in the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup at Keeneland, where she fared best of the American-based fillies, she wrapped up the season with a comprehensive success in the Grade 2 Mrs. Revere.
Marketing Mix kicked off 2012 on a winning note in a tough Keeneland allowance, beating Inglorious and Hungry Island. The form was reversed in the Grade 2 Churchill Distaff Turf Mile on Kentucky Derby Day, when Hungry Island sprang a mild upset. Marketing Mix rebounded with a pair of Grade 2 scores at Woodbine in the Nassau and the Dance Smartly. She made her second Grade 1 attempt in the August 18 Beverly D. at Arlington, but moved belatedly and fell a head short of I'm a Dreamer.
"She makes you high on her," Proctor said. "She's easy to train. She's handled everything we've ever done to her. Last year, we hauled her back and forth to Canada four times, I think.
"When we discussed after the Beverly D. what to do, I told Craig (Bernick, Glen Hill racing manager), 'It don't matter what you do. She makes you look good.' I'd have been disappointed if she got beat. That's not a good way to go into the race, but you've have to be the way she's run good all year.
Bred by Sean Fitzhenry in Ontario, Marketing Mix was purchased by her current connections for $150,000 as a Keeneland September yearling. She was produced by the Kris S. mare Instant Thought, and her second dam, the multiple Grade/Group 3-placed Nimble Mind, is a full sister to multiple Grade 2 heroine Skimble, the dam of two-time Grade 1 Pacific Classic star Skimming. This is also the family of Grade 1 winner Contredance; Group 2 scorer and multiple Grade 1-placed Eltish; and Group 1 One Thousand Guineas victress Wince, the dam of Group 1 queen and classic-placed Quiff.