Racing with blinkers on for the first time in her life, Stonestreet Stables' Tara's Tango pounced from just off the pace to win the Grade 1 Santa Margarita by a length Saturday at Santa Anita. The 4-year-old daughter of Unbridled's Song captured the 1 1/8 mile distance in 1:50.44 over the fast main track for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer.
“It was an exciting race and I'm very proud to get the Grade I for the owner,” said Hollendorfer. “She got a good trip and showed a lot of heart running down the favorite.”
Penwith broke on top and strode out to a 1 1/2 length lead over the favored Taris to set a first quarter fraction of :23.69, while Tara's Tango was patiently guided to the rear of the field by jockey Rafael Bejarano, just four lengths off the pace. Nearing the half-mile pole, Taris began to press Penwith's pace a bit as Tara's Tango was allowed to inch forward into fourth. Penwith ticked off the half-mile in :48.65.
Rounding the final turn, Taris drew even with Penwith through three-quarters in 1:13.22 as Tara's Tango waited behind horses. The latter was guided wide as the field straightened into the stretch just as Penwith began to drop back. Tara's Tango was covering the ground with giant strides to close the gap on the leading Taris, and passed the favorite to win by a length. Living the Life finished third, and Penwith retreated to be fourth.
“The blinkers made a big difference today, they helped me a lot from the gate,” said Bejarano. “I was able to put my horse into position right away. I waited for the opportunity and when we got to the stretch, she gave me a big turn of foot and I knew I could beat the favorite.”
Bred in Kentucky by her owners Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings, Tara's Tango is out of the stakes-placed French Deputy mare Scarlet Tango. Now with four wins from 10 career starts, Tara's Tango has boosted her bankroll to $618,000. The Santa Margarita marked her first Grade 1 victory.
“We've always known she had a lot of ability, from when she won her first start at Del Mar (in July, 2014),” said owner Barbara Banke. “Today, we knew she could get the distance and she just keeps trying and she never stops. This is very special; I've got my son, Christopher, and my nephew, Nick, here, and it's been great.”
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