Charlie Em Wins U.S. Debut in Senorita

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Charlie Em was successful in her United States debut, upsetting 3-5 favorite Scarlet Strike to win the $100,500 Senorita Stakes Saturday at Betfair Hollywood Park.

Making her first start for trainer Paddy Gallagher after being purchased by Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, the 3-year-old daughter of Kheleyf out of the Pivotal mare Miss Meggy held on by a head over Scarlet Strike in the Grade III.

Idle since finishing third in a $25,700 stakes at Hanover in Germany last Nov. 4, Charlie Em, the 9-1 fourth choice in the field of seven, was closest to pacesetter Disko Dasko for most of the trip, gained a slight advantage early in the stretch and went on to the narrow victory under strong handling by jockey Garrett Gomez. It was the third Senorita win for Gomez, whose earlier victories came back-to-back – Fantastic Filly (2001) and Adoration (2002).

The win was the fourth in nine starts for Charlie Em, who was bred in Great Britain by Highfield Farm LLP. The $60,000 payday almost quadrupled what she had earned last year in Europe. She’s now banked $76,678.

Completing the mile on turf in 1:35.18, Charlie Em, who was racing on Lasix for the first time, paid $21.40, $6.20 and $4.60.

“I’ve had her since November or December,’’ said Gallagher, who also won the 2007 Senorita with Valbenny. “It took her a little while, but she came around in the last five weeks. She got rid of her winter coat and started acting and training nice. She breezed a couple of times on the grass here and seemed to go nice.’’

Aron Wellman, the president of Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, said Charlie Em could return in the $150,000 Honeymoon Handicap, a Grade II at 1 1/8 miles on turf that will be run for the 62nd time June 8.

The 1-2 choice on the strength of her consistency and a victory in the Grade III Providencia Stakes April 6 at Santa Anita, Scarlet Strike was wide throughout and just missed under top weight of 121 pounds. She returned $2.20 and $2.10 while finishing 1 ¼ lengths in front of 11-1 shot Kyriaki. The show price on Kyriaki, who edged Need You Now by a nose, was $4.20. Lilbourne Eliza, the 4-1 second choice, was fifth in front of Disko Dasko and Showgirl Form. Sweet Red Cat was scratched.

“I tried to get in, but they kept pushing me out a little bit,’’ said Rafael Bejarano of his trip aboard Scarlet Strike. “From the outside post, I had to go wide. There really wasn’t much I could do.”

See the full chart here.

Senorita Stakes Quotes

Jockey Quotes

GARRETT GOMEZ, CHARLIE EM, Winner: “That was a pretty good race for her first time in this country.  They told me she was a little nervous, and to be patient with her.  She broke really well.  I uncovered her with a half mile to go. I had to keep grinding on her, but she kept staying. Today was the first time I was on her.”

RAFAEL BEJARANO, SCARLET STRIKE, Second: “I tried to get in, but they kept pushing me out a little bit.  From the outside post, I had to go wide.  There really wasn’t much I could do.”

Trainer Quotes

PADDY GALLAGHER, CHARLIE EM, Winner: “I’ve had her probably since November or December.  It took her a little while, but she came around in the last five weeks.  She got rid of her winter coat and started acting and training nice.  She breezed a couple of times on the (Betfair Hollywood Park) grass and seemed to go nice.”

PETER EURTON, KYRIAKI, Third: “I’m ecstatic about getting her placed in a Grade III. How can I ask for more?  She still has some anxiety problems.  When she got close to the gate, maybe 100 yards, you can see she wears her feelings right on her sleeve.  In time, she’s going to learn to relax.”

ARON WELLMAN (President of Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners) indicated Charlie Em could run next in the Grade II, $150,000 Honeymoon Handicap (1 1/8 miles on turf) June 8.

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