Little Red Feather Racing's Mirth grabbed the lead at the start and held it all the way through the wire on Saturday, earning her first Grade 1 victory in Santa Anita's Rodeo Drive Stakes at odds of 6-1. The 4-year-old daughter of Colonel John, who broke her maiden for a $16,000 tag at Delaware Park in 2017, ran 1 1/4 miles over the firm turf in 1:58.47. Ridden by Mike Smith for trainer Phil D'Amato, Mirth bested 6-5 favorite Beau Recall by 1 1/2 lengths to earn an expenses-paid berth to the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf.
“I've watched her, and she's been running dynamite,” said Smith, who was riding the filly for the first time. “It looked like she wasn't far from pulling one of these off, so I knew it was in her. It was just a matter of whether I could get a little brave and start marching a little early. She doesn't really have a turn of foot; she just seems to keep staying and keep going. I felt like I had gotten away with that at the half-mile pole, so going into the turn I started marching on where I was going to lengthen everybody's kick instead of trying to make an explosive move. It worked today. It might not work next time, but it worked today.”
Breaking from the inside post, Mirth sped out to take the lead and crossed over the dirt course with a 1 1/2-length advantage. She sped through fractions of :23.72, :47.53, and 1:11.05 while stretching her lead to nearly three lengths down the backstretch.
Meanwhile. 6-5 favorite Beau Recall was fourth early and between rivals for most of her journey, angling out into the stretch to make her run. Elysea's World was closer to the leader but could not threaten her in the lane, as Mirth strode away to win by 1 1/2 lengths. Beau Recall ran down Elysea's World for second, while longshot Siberian Iris closed from last to be fourth.
Bred in Pennsylvania by Barlar, LLC, Mirth is out of the stakes-placed French Deputy mare Di's Delight. The dam was sold with Mirth in utero for $23,000 at the 2014 Keeneland November sale, and began her career under the care of trainer Bernie Houghton. Purchased and sent to D'Amato before the start of 2019, the filly has earned two wins, three seconds and a third from nine starts this season, including her first Grade 1 victory. Overall, Mirth's record stands at 5-4-2 from 16 starts for earnings of over $300,000.
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