Santa Monica rolled home to a 1 ¼-length victory to capture her second graded stakes triumph of the year in Saturday's Grade 2, $200,000 Sheepshead Bay over the soft inner turf at Belmont Park.
Piloted by Joe Bravo, the 6-year-old daughter of Mastercraftsman was at the back of the tightly bunched pack while Giant Zinger led an uncontested opening quarter of 25.25 seconds and a half-mile in 48.30 with graded stakes winner Lady Montdore tracking just a length behind in second.
Santa Monica began inching her way up to the front coming around the far turn and was in command at the top of the stretch. Semper Sententiae displayed a late kick in the final furlong but was unable to catch the winner who won by 1 ¼-lengths in a time of 2:26.70.
Semper Sententiae finished five lengths clear of Giant Zinger for second. Completing the order of finish were Lady Montdore and Vexatious. Holy Helena and main track only entrants Unbridledadventure and Matty's Magnum were scratched.
Trained by Chad Brown and owned by R Unicorn Stable, Santa Monica won the Grade 3 Orchid on March 29 at Gulfstream Park in her most recent effort. The Sheepshead Bay was the third career graded stakes victory for Santa Monica, who captured last year's Grade 2 Dance Smartly at Woodbine in her third North American start.
“She did it very, very professionally,” said Brown's assistant trainer Whit Beckman. “She was able to settle nicely over the soft going and made a nice little early move. Nobody could come and get her when she moved away in the stretch. I was impressed.”
Bravo expressed confidence in his mare and said he made an early move because he felt she was the class of the race.
“I think everyone agreed before the race she was the best horse in the race,” Bravo said. “It was [interesting] time-wise; they ran away from there pretty quickly – 48 [half-mile in 48.30 seconds] for that distance is quick, but they slowed it way down. I looked up and there were only four horses in front of us, so I made a really early move with her and class prevailed.”
Saturday afternoon's win enhanced Santa Monica's career earnings to $543,024 after banking $110,000 from the victory.
Going to post as the odds-on favorite, Santa Monica returned $4.20 on a $2 win ticket.
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