Breaking from post position one, California-bred Coniah gunned to the lead under Kent Desormeaux and was in control thereafter as she cruised to a 1 ¾ length win in Saturday's Grade III, $100,000 Las Cienegas Stakes at Santa Anita. In providing trainer William Morey with his first-ever graded stakes victory, the 5-year-old mare by Harlington negotiated 6 ½ furlongs down the hillside turf course in 1:12.17.
“It took me almost 1,600 wins to get my first graded win,” said Morey. “It feels pretty good. I was very confident. I thought she looked great out there and I had Kent in charge, so I wasn't looking at the fractions. When they turned for home, I knew they had to do some running to catch her.”
Idle since June 18, Coniah had two close second place finishes from as many tries down the hill. Off as the 2-1 second choice in a field of seven older fillies and mares, she paid $6.40, $3.40 and $2.60.
Owned and bred by James and Tammy McKenney, Coniah had three previous graded stakes placings, but like her trainer, registered her first graded win on Saturday. Out of the McKenney's Lord at War mare, Pretti Woman, Coniah has an overall mark of 20-4-5-3. With the winner's check of $60,000, she boosted her earnings to $295,365.
When asked if he was surprised Coniah was able to clear off after the first quarter mile, James McKenney responded, “I never anticipate anything. It's horseracing!”
In her first try on turf, Bendable gave a good account of herself under Mike Smith. Unhurried early, she checked in second, a length in front of longshot Princess Princess.
Overlayed at 9-2 (off a morning line of 5-2), Bendable paid $5.00 and $3.80.
Ridden by Tyler Connor, Princess Princess laid third throughout and finished three quarters of a length in front of post time favorite Beau Recall, who could make no significant impact from off the pace.
Off at 22-1, Princess Princess paid $7.80 to show.
Fractions on the race were 21.78, 43.89 and 1:06.31.
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