Weekend Stakes Recap from Gulfstream Park and Santa Anita

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By Emily Shields

Rain wreaked havoc on the graded stakes action at Santa Anita January 12, with the Las Vienegas (G3) coming off the grass and losing its graded status, and the La Canada Stakes (G3) being scratched down to six runners.

The $100,000 La Canada was a 1 1/16-mile contest for older fillies and mares, and the scratch of Exuberance left six to cover the distance in 1:41.89. Favored Escape Clause ($4.20) took the lead with a half-mile left to go and powered home to score by 5 ½ lengths under jockey Tyler Baze.K P Wildcat ran second with Lemoona third.

Escape Clause, a five-year-old Maintoba-bred daughter of Going Commando, is owned and trained by Don Schnell, who has won two of three starts in 2019 and strikes at 17%. Escape Clause started her career in Winnipeg, winning seven stakes races at Assiniboia before traveling to tracks such as Canterbury Park, Zia Park, and Northlands Park. She arrived in California in November, winning the Kathryn Crosby Stakes at Del Mar. This was her first graded stakes score.

The second grade 3 event of the day, the $100,000 Las Cienegas down Santa Anita’s hillside turf course, saw five scratches when it was moved to dirt due to rainy weather conditions. That left popular runner Belvoir Bay (GB) ($4.20) as the favorite; she won by a length and a quarter. The talented daughter of Equiano (Fr) had run at Keeneland and Woodbine in her last two starts. She is trained by Peter Miller for Gary Barber, Flavien Prat was up for the victory over Lady Suebee and Compelled.

At Gulfstream Park, a pair of grade 3 turf events worth $100,000 each highlighted the Saturday card. The Tropical Turf Stakes went to Doctor Mounty ($12.20), a five-year-old son of Street Sense trained by Shug McGaughey. Javier Castellano was up, and guided the bay horse from last of seven to first at the wire, scoring by a length in 1:34.62 for the one-mile distance. Favored Heart to Heart, a grade 1 winner, finished third behind Your Only Man, a 10-1 shot, in second. The Tropical Turf was Doctor Mounty’s second graded stakes victory in four months; he had previously won the Baltimore/Washington International Turf Cup (G3) at Laurel Park in September.

The female counterpart of the Tropical Turf is the Marshua’s River for older fillies and mares. It is run over 1 1/16 miles and saw an impressive winner in Bellavais ($6.60), who was also piloted by Castellano. Bellavais, by Tapit, was 3 ½ lengths clear at the wire after being fourth through much of the race. She finished in 1:41.98 with I’m Betty G second and Valedictorian third. Favored La Signare (Fr) finished sixth with a difficult trip.

Both tracks will run major races in a week, with Gulfstream holding the Sunshine Millions and Santa Anita carding the grade 2 Palos Verdes.

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