Back on a course she adores, Fahan Mura made every pole a winning one in taking Saturday's Grade III, $150,000 Robert J. Frankel Stakes by three quarters of a length under Edwin Maldonado. A 4-year-year-old Pennsylvania-bred filly by English Channel, Fahan Mura is trained by Vladimir Cerin and got a mile and one eighth on turf in 1:46.85.
Breaking alertly from her number four post in a field of eight fillies and mares three and up, Fahan Mura made the easiest of leads and cruised into the Club House turn with her ears pricked and a two-length advantage over Quebec, and she increased that edge to a three length margin into and around the far turn.
Quebec drew to within a length and a half at the top of the lane, but never seriously threatened while giving way to runner-up Excellent Sunset late.
Well beaten going a mile on turf at Del Mar in the Grade I Matriarch Stakes Dec. 2, Fahan Mura was off as the 8-5 favorite and paid $5.40, $3.40 and $2.80.
“The fractions were good for her, but they were good for her last time, too,” said Cerin. “For some reason, she just didn't fire. I leave it in Edwin's hands. He's improved her by letting her be herself. He never interferes with her. He's a big reason she's doing well.”
Owned by Bran Jam Stable and David Clark, Fahan Mura now has six wins from seven tries over the Santa Anita turf and today's victory marks her first graded stakes triumph. With the winner's share of $90,000, she now has earnings of $431,815 and her overall mark now stands at 23-9-2-4.
“She's a really fun horse to ride,” said Maldonado, who has now ridden her in her last nine starts. “She's become so much more professional. She used to pull quite a bit, but now, she relaxes so nice…I want to thank Vladimir and the owners for putting me on her. Today, she made the lead easy and then she did all the work.”
Irish-bred Excellent Sunset put in a good late bid, but ran out of real estate while finishing second by one length over Quebec. Ridden by Rafael Bejarano, Excellent Sunset was the second choice at 2-1 and paid $3.60 and $2.80.
Ridden by Joel Rosario, Quebec, who was off at 9-2, finished 1 ¼ lengths in front of Escape Clause and paid $3.40 to show.
Fractions, all set by the winner, were 23.48, 47.43, 1:11.15 and 1:34.78.
Note: The Robert J. Frankel Stakes is named for the late Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel, who won the race's precursor, the San Gorgonio Handicap, a record eight times.
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