Taking advantage of a quick early pace, Open Water earned her first victory outside Kentucky, upsetting favored Lady of Fifty in the $150,250 Marjorie L. Everett Handicap Saturday at Betfair Hollywood Park.
The victory by the 9-1 shot gave jockey Joe Talamo a sweep of the afternoon's stakes. More than three hours earlier, Talamo teamed with Unusual Hottie to capture the $100,500 Fran's Valentine.
Trained by Eric Guillot for a partnership that includes Southern Equine Stable LLC, Mike Smith and Whispering Oaks Farm LLC, Open Water sat well off a spirited duel between Maker Or Breaker and Sister Kate, rallied in tandem with Lady of Fifty while outside the 7-10 choice and ultimately prevailed by one length.
A 4-year-old Include filly out of the A.P. Indy mare Biscayne Bay, Open Water completed the 1 1/16 miles over Cushion Track in 1:44.01. She paid $21.40, $6.20 and $3.20.
The Grade II win was Open Water's third in 14 starts and boosted her bankroll to $270,750. Her two previous victories came over the Polytrack at Turfway Park – by a combined 15 ½ lengths – early last year. She was 0-for-8 in California and New York before her Everett success.
“She loves this track, that's why I gave her a little freshening after Santa Anita,'' said Guillot. “She danced every dance last year and she was always the bridesmaid, never the bride.
“I think she can go a mile and an eighth and I'll probably run her back in the (Grade I, $250,000) Vanity (Handicap June 15).''
Talamo, who had not ridden Open Water before Saturday, was impressed by her two works leading to the Everett. She was clocked in a bullet 1:12 3/5 for six furlongs May 5, then followed with a 1:15 move at the same distance a week later.
“It really worked out great,'' said Talamo, who also won the 2012 Everett with Include Me Out. “You could tell they were rolling up front. On this track you just can't go that fast (23.34, 46.54 and 1:10.84 for six furlongs).
“She was in between horses at about the 4 ½ (furlong pole) and (Lady of Fifty) was kind of pressing me a little, so I took back and went outside of her. At that time, she took a couple of breathers and I think that really helped down the lane. She was really game.''
An impressive winner of the Bayakoa Handicap in her lone try over Cushion Track last Dec. 8 – a Grade II in which Open Water was second at 10-1 – Lady of Fifty wound up 4 ½ lengths clear of I Dazzle. Lady of Fifty returned $3 and $2.20 while I Dazzle paid $3.40 to show.
Maker Or Breaker, Sister Kate and Lady Aspen completed the order of finish.
More Chocolate, the 2-1 morning line favorite who had finished fifth 15 days earlier in the Grade II La Troienne at Churchill Downs, was scratched.
JOE TALAMO, OPEN WATER, Winner: “Her last two works were very impressive. She galloped out real strong. It really worked out great. You could tell they were rolling up front. On this track you just can't go that fast early. She was in between horses at about the 4 1-2 (furlong pole) and (Lady of Fifty) was kind of pressing me a little, so I took back and went outside of her. At that time, she took a couple of breathers and I think that really helped down the lane. She was really game.”
RAFAEL BEJARANO, LADY OF FIFTY, Second: “She was in a good position, but I didn't have enough horse.”
GARRETT GOMEZ, I DAZZLE, Third: “She got in the gate and went to kicking. She got her left rear leg caught up a little bit on the side. It was on a pad and she wasn't scrambling, so I don't think it affected her performance.”
ERIC GUILLOT, OPEN WATER, Winner: “She loves this track, that's why I gave her a little freshening after Santa Anita. She danced every dance last year and she was always the bridesmaid, never the bride. She only got back April 1. She's got a great pedigree. Maybe she's good enough to be a Southern Equine broodmare. She's a Grade II winner now and her second dam is Flanders. I think she can go a mile and one-eighth and I'll probably run her back in the (Grade I, $250,000) Vanity (Handicap June 15).''
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