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'Ebby' stays perfect in second start

"Ebby" continued her winning ways in her belated second start (Benoit Photos)

Eblouissante, a four-year-old Bernardini half-sister to Horse of the Year Zenyatta, faced winners for the first time in Thursday's 7TH race at Santa Anita, $58,000 allowance/optional claimer, and at odds of 1-2 left little doubt that she has stakes races in her future. Trained John Shirreffs, who also conditioned her famous older sister, scored by 1 3/4 lengths while covering 1 1/16 miles on the fast dirt in 1:44 4/5.

Like her near-perfect sister, Eblouissante broke slowly in the five-horse field, but unlike Zenyatta, showed good tactical speed under Corey Nakatani, as she was just five lengths off pacesetter Folk Dancer and Julien Leparoux midway around the Club House turn. By the time the field hit the top of the stretch, the Kentucky-bred had taken Nakatani to a head advantage over over 44-1 shot Pink Blossom and Alonso Quinonez.

"She's such a big filly," Nakatani said. "They ran away from her a little, so I just dropped her steady inside. The plan was to see how she handled the dirt today and she handled it better than we thought she would. Obviously, it didn't bother her. What more can you say, except that I'm ecstatic she's back and in John's care. She's tremendous."

Pink Blossom made Eblouissante work to the wire and under some urging, Nakatani increased his advantage in the final sixteenth of a mile.

"She sat nicely," Shirreffs said. "She moved up nicely. She stayed right where Corey wanted her, and at the end picked it up a little more. It was very good."

An impressive 4 1/4-length debut winner at Hollywood Park on November 16, Eblouissante was scheduled to make her second start on December 15 at Hollywood Park, but was scratched out of that 1 1/16-mile affair after banging her hip, and losing some hide in the process, in the receiving barn.

Now a perfect two-for-two, Eblouissante, or "Ebby" as she's called around the barn and by a growing legion of fans, boosted her earnings to $61,800 with the winner's share of $34,800 from Thursday's race.

Shirreffs indicated that filly's next start would be determined in consultation with owner/breeder Eric Kronfeld, who is based in New York.

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