DP Racing's Sophie P upset Saturday's Grade 1 Gamely Stakes at Santa Anita at odds of 14-1, earning her first North American victory in her second attempt. The 5-year-old daughter of Bushranger, ridden by Kent Desormeaux for trainer James Cassidy, covered 1 1/8 miles over the firm turf in 1:48.53 to best Madam Dancealot by a nose at the wire.
With eventual third place finisher Madame Stripes carving out a solid pace, Desormeaux was content to sit well off the pace early in fourth position after a half mile. Coming to the quarter pole, Sophie P was traveling well, wheeled three-wide turning for home and just prevailed in a photo finish that was much too close to call.
“She was fluttering (a reference to her breathing) to me and I haven't had a horse do that with me in years,” said Desormeaux. “It's a great indication to me, verbally, like she was saying ‘I'm very happy here, let's continue to cruise here.' I stayed there until I needed her to help me make some room for a run.
“Once she had clear sailing, she really took off. She had to fight to catch the leader and was very fortunate to beat the horse that she couldn't see…We were lucky to get the head bob.”
Sixth, beaten three lengths by Beau Recall in her U.S. debut in the Grade II Royal Heroine at one mile on turf April 7, Sophie P was off at 14-1 and paid $30.00, $11.80 and $6.80.
“I really wasn't sure if we got the bob, but if I had to bet on it, I would have said ‘no,' said Cassidy. “If they put up ‘dead heat,' I would not have been surprised. I was thinking Kent's a great rider as I watched the stretch. He put her in the right position and didn't let anybody get clear.
“He did everything he had to do…The mile and one eighth in here, I thought, was going to be to her benefit and the fact that she's trained very forwardly since her last race.”
Ridden by Corey Nakatani, Slam Dunk Racing's Madam Dancealot was last turning for home and mounted a furious stretch rally at the rail, only to miss in a heartbreaker.
Off at 4-1, Madam Dancealot finished a neck in front of Argentine-bred Madame Stripes and paid $5.40 and $3.40.
Ridden by Rafael Bejarano, Madame Stripes, who was in the middle of the three-horse photo, finished up 1 ¾ lengths in front of Beau Recall. Off at 10-1, Madame Stripes paid $5.60 to show.
Ridden by Julien Leparoux, even money favorite Hawksmoor, who shipped west from Maryland for today's Gamely, stumbled badly leaving the gate and was never a factor thereafter.
“She was standing fine,” said Leparoux. “Maybe it's starting on the dirt, I don't know. After that, she was never comfortable. She was pulling too much and not relaxing at all. It's the kind of race that we need to erase and go to the next one.”
Fractions on the Gamely were 23.92, 47.24, 1:11.45 and 1:36.21.
Bred in Great Britain, Sophie P had never won a stakes race in 18 starts in Europe. Her first stateside effort was a sixth-place finish in the G2 Royal Heroine, but she got it done in the Gamely to improve her record to five wins from 21 starts for earnings of over $250,000.
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