Claimed for $40,000 last winter at Santa Anita, Vasilika climaxed her rise from obscurity with an upset of 4-5 favored Cambodia in the featured Grade II $200,000 John C. Mabee Stakes for older fillies and mares Saturday at Del Mar near San Diego, Calif.
Under a confident ride by jockey Flavien Prat, Vasilika outfinished Cambodia in the stretch drive to score by a length and one-half and extend her victory streak to six in a row for owners Mark Schlaich of Concord, Calif., Dan Gatto of Olivenhain, Calif. and George Todaro of Seattle, Wash. Jerry Hollendorfer trains the 4-year-old daughter of Skipshot. Third, a neck behind Cambodia, was Fahan Mura, the early pacesetter, with Meal Ticket fourth in the field of 11.
Withdrawn from the race were Storm the Hill, Cordiality and Midnight Crossing.
Vasilika was second choice in the betting at 4-1 and returned $10.40, $4.20 and $3.40 while earning $120,000 to increase her lifetime bankroll to $440,595.
Cambodia, seeking to repeat her 2017 stakes double of the Yellow Ribbon Handicap and Mabee Stakes after taking the Yellow Ribbon July 20, paid $2.60 and $2.20, while Fahan Mura returned $4.80 to show.
Time for the nine furlongs over the infield Jimmy Durante Turf Course was 1:47.25 after fractions of :23.67, :47.25, 1:11.92 and 1:35.44.
Drayden Van Dyke and Prat each tripled on the 11-race program, with the former retaining a two-winner edge, 37-35, entering the final two days of the 36-day Del Mar summer season. Prat's win on Vasilika was his seventh stakes success of the meet and second of the afternoon, having also won the Grade I $300,000 Del Mar Debutante earlier. He now has 30 stakes wins at Del Mar.
The stakes win was the third of the meet and second (City to City, 2012) in the John C. Mabee Stakes for trainer Hollendorfer. He now has 34 stakes wins at Del Mar.
With a carryover of $54,880 from Friday and “new” money of $326,588 Saturday for a total Pick Six pool of $481,468, there were four perfect tickets and each returned $57,339.
FLAVIEN PRAT (Vasilika, winner) – “I had to bide my time on the turn, but when I saw a hole she gave me a great kick. Big race for her; big effort. Very impressive.”
DRAYDEN VAN DYKE (Cambodia, second) – “I wanted to be closer than usual, but it didn't work out. Then on the turn I had traffic; but that's turf racing. The traffic cost me. She gave me a good kick; she exploded. But I was behind the winner all the way.”
EDWIN MALDONADO (Fahan Mura, third) – “If it's not broke, you don't try to fix it. She's a speed horse; that's what she does. She went for it today, then she hung tough. She ran a good race.”
JERRY HOLLENDORFER (Vasilika, winner) – “We walked over with a lot of confidence. We respect Cambodia and Vladimir Cerin's horse (Fahan Mura) but we thought we had a really good chance to win. She's been training so well and doing so well.”
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