A $50,000 claim by owners Christopher St. Hilaire and Adam Vali out of a maiden race Dec. 1, 2016, Queen Bee to You became a graded stakes winner Sunday with a last-to-first victory in the $100,351 Bayakoa Stakes at Los Alamitos.
The impressive score in the Grade III over a track labeled good was also the first graded win for trainer Andrew Lerner.
Three weeks removed from a 4 ¼ length win against California breds in the seven-furlong Betty Grable at Del Mar, the 5-year-old Old Topper mare settled off the pace set by stablemate Arctic Roll early, was kept in the clear while rallying by jockey Ruben Fuentes, surged past 19-10 favorite Lady Suebee with an eighth of a mile to run and went on to prevail by 3 ½ lengths.
The 5-2 second choice in a field of six reduced by the scratches of Mo See Cal and Mirth, Queen Bee to You paid $7.20, $3.40 and $2.40 while completing the 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.21. She's now 7-for-32 lifetime with earnings of $538,770.
Out of the Touch Gold mare Silk Queen, Queen Bee to You has now won three of seven starts at Los Alamitos and has never been worse than third here. It was her second local stakes win of the year. She surprised males as a 10-1 outsider in the Bertrando June 29.
“There was a little hesitation running her back in three weeks, but she came out of the last race so well and we worked her back and she went so spectacularly that we said we have to go for it,'' said Lerner.
“The plan wasn't to take her back that far, but she kind of missed the break a little bit. I could see she was traveling smoothly and (Fuentes) always does a fantastic job with her. They've done a great job with this track.
“It's a huge accomplishment (in regards to collecting his first graded win). “I'm so grateful for my team. My foreman Isidro (Hernandez) and I started with one horse (Gunslinger) we claimed 2 ½ years ago and now we have a stable of 45.''
Zusha, an 8-1 shot, rallied for second, a neck in front of Lady Suebee. Zusha returned $8 and $3.20 while the show price on Lady Suebee was $2.40.
Completing the order of finish were Kim K, Mongolian Humor and Arctic Roll.
Jockey Joe Talamo earned the 1,999th win of his career when Tiz Wonderfully won the sixth race for owner-trainer Jim Cassidy.
Talamo, who will turn 30 Jan. 12, will try to reach the 2,000 win milestone when racing resumes Thursday – post time 1 p.m. – at Los Alamitos. He is named on three horses – Rizzi's Honors in the fifth, South Boot Shirley in the seventh and I Dub Thee in the eighth.
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