Phoenix Thoroughbred III’s Dream Tree entered Saturday’s $100,000 Desi Arnaz Stakes with a debut maiden win to her credit, and exited the seven-furlong Del Mar contest a black-type winner for trainer Bob Baffert.
With jockey Drayden Van Dyke aboard, the Uncle Mo filly broke from the far outside post and immediately latched onto the flank of Secret Spice to her inside as that one powered up to take command through an opening quarter in :22.55. Dream Tree backed up a bit on the backstretch to take a breather before ranging up once more as Secret Spice passed the half-mile mark in :45.93.
Dream Tree kicked into gear and swept by the pacesetter entering the turn, and was in full flight down the lane. Though she had a two-length advantage in midstretch, the bay lass had to dig in and fight for the win as Midnight Bisou came flying down the center of the track. Dream Tree gutted out the nose score while stopping the clock in 1:23.69 over the fast main track.
Sent off the even-money favorite, Dream Tree paid $4 for the win. Midnight Bisou was easily best of the rest, 5 1/4 lengths in front of Secret Spice, who was followed under the wire by Ms Bad Behavior and Smiling Tigress.
Dream Tree is now two-for-two and has banked $90,000 lifetime. The bay lass also prevailed by a nose in her debut, a six-furlong maiden special weight at Santa Anita Park on October 27. Finishing second that day was Midnight Bisou.
Bred in Kentucky by Mike and Pat Freeny, Dream Tree is out of the Afleet Alex mare Afleet Maggi and counts as a half-sister stakes runner-up O’ Maggi. This is the same female family as Grade 1-winning millionaire Golden Ticket and, farther back, 1946 Triple Crown hero Assault.
DESI ARNAZ QUOTES
Drayden Van Dyke, jockey Dream Tree, winner
“It isn’t that she pulls herself up; she just idles a little bit in that last sixteenth. She did it the other day (her first start, a victory at six furlongs on October 27 at Santa Anita in a straight maiden race); she did it some again today. They took the blinkers off her today to get her to relax; she was going seven-eighths. But she’s talented; no doubt.”
Jim Barnes, assistant trainer Dream Tree, winner
“She seems to be improving. We’ve got to work on the thrilling finishes there (2-for-2 career with both by a nose). We’ll see how she comes out and Bob will tell us where we’re going next.”
Rafael Bejarano, jockey Midnight Bisou, second
“I ran out of racetrack. If I have another jump or two, I think we win. She’s just a little green. She only had the one race (a close second in her debut to the winner at Santa Anita on October 27). She’s getting the experience she needs.”
Corey Nakatani, jockey Secret Spice, third
“She’s quick out of there. I just let her roll. With a two-year-old, you don’t want to discourage their natural ability. She’s got that natural speed. She ran good today.”