March 23, 2019

Vasilika makes it seven straight in Breeders’ Cup WAYI Rodeo Drive

Vasilika and jockey Flavien Prat outleg Paved under Joel Rosario to win the Rodeo Drive Stakes (G1) on September 29, 2018, at Santa Anita Park © BENOIT PHOTO

A year ago, Vasilika was plying her trade in the claiming and starter allowance ranks on the East Coast. Fast forward to Saturday at Santa Anita, and Jerry Hollendorfer’s streaking improver booked a place in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1) by racking up her seventh consecutive victory in the $301,035 Rodeo Drive (G1).

Hollendorfer, with partner George Todaro, claimed Vasilika for $40,000 out of her successful Santa Anita bow back in February. She was changing hands for the second straight race, having gone for $32,000 to trainer Robert Falcone Jr. and Drawing Away Stable, also off a win, at Aqueduct the previous November.

Vasilika was not risked for a tag by her new West Coast connections. After missing by a neck in a March 4 allowance/optional claimer here, she picked up additional co-owners in All Schlaich Stables and Gatto Racing, and has gone unbeaten for the quartet. The Skipshot filly was well placed, capturing the March Madness and Pennies from Heaven Starter Handicaps amid methodically clearing her allowance conditions. She brought a five-race winning spree into her stakes debut in the September 1 John C. Mabee (G2) at Del Mar, and handled the class hike to topple defending champion Cambodia.

The Rodeo Drive marked not only a rematch with Cambodia, but a first try at 1 1/4 miles, and Vasilika passed that test too. The 8-5 favorite with regular rider Flavien Prat, Vasilika was reserved in fourth as the newly blinkered, and keen, Tisbutadream rattled off splits of :23.61, :46.78, and 1:10.42.

When the attending Cambodia launched her bid turning for home and struck the front through the mile in 1:34.88, Vasilika covered her move. The rivals grappled in upper stretch, but Vasilika put Cambodia away. Then three-year-old filly Paved emerged onto the scene, forcing Vasilika to summon more to fend her off. The favorite maintained a safe half-length advantage while finishing in 1:59.04.

Cambodia reported home another half-length adrift of Paved. Beau Recall closed for fourth, followed by Amboseli, Sophie P, Queen Blossom, and the tailed-off Tisbutadream.

Bred by her original owner/trainer Mikhail Yanakov, Vasilika is out of the winning Marquetry mare La Belle Marquet, a full sister to multiple Canadian stakes victor and Grade 2-placed Chris’s Bad Boy. Her scorecard now stands at 26-12-4-3, $620,595.