Phoenix Thoroughbred III’s Dream Tree remained perfect in four starts with a 3 3/4-length victory on Sunday in the $200,345 Las Virgenes Stakes (G2) at Santa Anita Park under jockey Drayden Van Dyke.
The Bob Baffert trainee tracked in third as Thirteen Squared set the pace through splits of :23.22, :46.68 and 1:11.73 while pressed by She’s No Drama. Dream Tree glided up to the outside and easily passed the duo with Steph Being Steph hot on her heels.
The bay daughter of Uncle Mo took command and pulled away under her own power to finish a mile over the fast main track in 1:39.45. The win boosted her career earnings to $390,000 and awarded the filly 10 points toward a starting berth in the Kentucky Oaks (G1).
The Las Virgenes is part of the Road to the Kentucky Oaks series of points races and gave away 10-4-2-1 points to the respective top four finishers.
Exuberance rallied to best Steph Being Steph by a half-length on the wire, while Thirteen Squared filled the fourth spot. She’s No Drama and Holy Diver finished out the order under the wire.
Dream Tree paid $2.60 as the 1-5 favorite to add a third stakes score to her resume. The filly broke her maiden by a nose at Santa Anita last October, took the Desi Arnaz Stakes by that same margin at Del Mar in mid-November and closed out her juvenile campaign last out in the December 9 Starlet Stakes (G1) at Los Alamitos.
Bred in Kentucky by Mike and Pat Freeny, Dream Tree is out of the Afleet Alex mare Afleet Maggi. This is the same female family as Grade 1-winning millionaire Golden Ticket.
LAS VIRGENES QUOTES
Drayden Van Dyke, jockey Dream Tree, winner
“I was trying to be patient because I felt we were kind of going a little quick and we were for this track.
“We’ve been working on her in the mornings and it’s worked out. I’ve been able to get her to relax and finish well so what else could you ask for?!
“I’m excited about her. Hopefully she stays good and sound and gets even better. I think she will.”
Bob Baffert, trainer Dream Tree, winner
“I thought she was fresh and she was getting a little excited on her way to the gate. I just love the way she sat off those front runners. I know she has a lot of speed. I think she’s getting better mentally and she’s relaxing and she really brought it at the end.
“She’s all class so I’m just so glad that Kerri and Amir hired me to be their trainer. I’m very fortunate.”
Kerri Radcliffe (Phoenix Thoroughbred III), owner Dream Tree, winner
“I was finally able to take a deep breath when she was across the finish line. Two furlongs from home we knew. She’s such a good filly, now four-for-four, and she just keeps improving.
“I saw her at the end of last January at Ciaran Dunn’s Wavertree Stables and I loved her and she breezed really well. When they breeze well and then they come out of it sound and look great, they’ve got to be runners.
“You have to speak to the trainer but I hope he has Oaks fever like I do. Hopefully it’ll be a Patriots- Dream Tree double today!”
Tom Ludt (vice-president Phoenix Thoroughbred III), owner Dream Tree, winner
“How good is she! Drayden said he didn’t have to do much with her. Although she got a little stirred up going to the gate, she settled real nice for him and did everything right. She’s got a great mind. Yeah, we’ll stay here and point for the (April 7) Santa Anita Oaks (G1).”
Amer Abdulaziz (Phoenix Thoroughbred III), owner Dream Tree, winner
“This is my first time here at Santa Anita. I came all the way from Dubai to watch this race. These are the kinds of races we expected to win when we bought this horse.
“We’ve been talking to Bob and we’re thinking about the Oaks, both Santa Anita and Kentucky, so we’re going there definitely for sure. Having a good filly like this, makes you feel good.”