After beginning her career with two races on turf, Kookie Gal made a successful transition to dirt, easily winning the $100,000 Soviet Problem Stakes Saturday at Los Alamitos.
Owned by breeders Gary Barber and Wachtel Stable and trained by Peter Miller, the 2-year-old daughter of Boisterous relaxed off the pace under jockey Flavien Prat, then took charge in the stretch to score by four lengths.
The even-money favorite against five other California bred or sired fillies, Kookie Gal completed the one mile in 1:37.18 while winning for the second time. She's earned $89,000.
Racing without the blinkers worn in grass affairs at Santa Anita and Del Mar, the dark bay filly paid $4, $2.60 and $2.10.
Hotitude, the 5-2 second choice who battled most of the way with the Miller-trained Creative Instinct on the pace, returned $3 and $2.20. Creative Instinct, who was a half-length back in third AS THE 3-1 third choice, paid $2.40 to show.
All Tea All Shade, Gotta Be Lucky and Time for Suzzie completed the order of finish.
''It set up like we thought it would,'' said Ruben Alvarado, Miller's assistant trainer. “We knew our other filly (Creative Instinct) would be up near the lead and we thought (Kookie Gal) would be a few lengths behind.
“I think having the blinkers off really helped her. She was training well at Del Mar, so we decided to try her on dirt and that maybe we would get lucky.''
Prat, who has ridden Kookie Gal in each of her outings, thought the equipment change was wise.
“(Miller) made the right decision to take the blinkers off today,'' he said. “She relaxed perfectly and then gave me a real good kick in the stretch.''
Heading into the final day of the Winter meet, Heriberto Figueroa leads the jockey standings. Figueroa, who was the co-leader with Assael Espinoza at the Summer Thoroughbred Festival and the champion at the Los Angeles County Fair season earlier in the year, has eight wins, two more than Geovanni Franco and Tyler Baze.
Hall of Famer Bob Baffert and Doug O'Neill are tied atop the trainer standings with four wins apiece. Gary Sherlock, Brian Koriner and Miller are next with three victories.
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