LA BREA STAKES | PURSE: $300,000 | 3-YEAR-OLD FILLIES | GRADE 1 | 7 FURLONGS
Gary and Mary West's homebred Book Review found California to her liking Dec. 26, when she got up over tough contender Reneesgotzip and 2011 2-year-old champion My Miss Aurelia in the final strides of the $300,000 La Brea Stakes at Santa Anita Park.
The 3-year-old daughter of Giant's Causeway was making her first start on the West Coast since moving to the barn of Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, who saddled his seventh La Brea winner and first since Indian Blessing in 2008. Sent off at odds of 9-2, Book Review came from far out of it with a big late run under jockey Rafael Bejarano to catch 2-5 favorite My Miss Aurelia and 7-1 Reneesgotzip as those two engaged in a slugfest down the lane.
"This race really looked like a logical spot for her," Baffert remarked of the filly who finished fifth last time out in the Nov. 24 Gazelle at Aqueduct Racetrack. "She's a late-running sprinter. We just took a stab at it, and it worked out. If you look at her form, she's duck or no dinner. She either shows up or she doesn't -- and today was her day to show up."
Well reserved early on ahead of only one in the field of seven 3-year-old fillies, Book Review trailed in sixth following a trio of runners determined to claim the lead. Longshot Nechez Dawn was gunned to the front from post 2, but Reneesgotzip was with her in tandem, and My Miss Aurelia flanked those two three-wide through opening fractions of :22.42 and :44.17.
That situation kept My Miss Aurelia from the win, jockey Corey Nakatani said.
"Not the ideal trip," Nakatani remarked. "I wanted to be back a little ways. I was sitting there and they're riding next to me and you move on her and she goes. I was trying to wait-wait-wait and when you do that, it takes the race away from her. Wasn't the best of trips."
As the frontrunners battled it out through three-quarters in 1:08.89, Book Review was making a steady progression from behind.
"I saw there was a lot of speed in the race and that was very good for me," Bejarano said. "I let her do whatever she felt comfortable with. I knew she was going to come running at the end, so I just waited for the right time, and it worked."
Turning for home, Bejarano swung his mount out slightly to avoid the drifting Nechez Dawn, who had been left in the dust of the battling Reneesgotzip and My Miss Aurelia. Both dug in fiercely, with Reneesgotzip brushing with My Miss Aurelia in midstretch and again in deep stretch while maintaining a miniscule advantage on the inside. But Book Review was closing quickly in the clear and hit the wire ahead by a neck, completing seven furlongs on the wet fast track in 1:22.41.
Reneesgotzip, ridden by Garrett Gomez, kept the bob for the place over My Miss Aurelia.
"She did everything I was wanting her to do except get to the line first," Gomez said. "We dueled really hard and the other filly [Book Review] came through us when we were all staggered toward the end of the race and beat us today. She got hooked every bit of the way and she didn't get any opportunity to take a breath of air. She kept to her task and ran a tremendous race."
Reneesgotzip, a City Zip filly trained by Peter Miller for the Lanni Family Trust, was third in the Nov. 3 Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint and came back Dec. 1 to win the Skillful Joy Stakes at Betfair Hollywood Park. My Miss Aurelia, Stonestreet Stables and George Bolton's top candidate for Eclipse Award honors as the leading sophomore filly of 2012, was coming off a runner-up finish 1 1/2 lengths behind Royal Delta in the 1 1/8-mile Grey Goose Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic Nov. 2.
Book Review returned $11.60, $5.40, and $2.60. Reneesgotzip paid $5.80 and $2.40. My Miss Aurelia brought $2.10. Candrea, Nechez Dawn, Creditcardroulette, and Mamma Kimbo completed the order of finish.
Bred in Kentucky out of the Distorted Humor mare Clever Babe, the winner earned her first graded stakes score and fifth victory from 10 career starts, improving her earnings to $594,955. Earlier in the year when trained by Chad Brown, she took the Charles Town Oaks and Belmont Park's Imperial Gesture Stakes.