Brazilian import Jolie Olimpica thrived on the cutback in Monday’s $201,000 Monrovia (G2) and nearly equaled her own 5 1/2-furlong course record at Santa Anita. Patiently handled by Hall of Famer Mike Smith, the 9-10 favorite let Stealthediamonds blast away early, mowed her down, and held late-running Oleksandra.
Brazil’s Horse of the Year, Jolie Olimpica had made a memorable U.S. debut for Fox Hill Farms in the Jan. 11 Las Cienegas (G3). Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella had her sharp off the seven-month layoff, and she lowered the course record to 1:01.00 while remaining unbeaten. The stretch-out to a mile in the Feb. 22 Buena Vista (G2) should have suited her, but Jolie Olimpica raced a bit too freely on the lead and got nabbed by Keeper Ofthe Stars – who came back to take the Gamely (G1) later Monday.
There was no such problem in the Monrovia, with Jolie Olimpica happy to have Stealthediamonds motor ahead through splits of :21.40 and :43.48 on the firm turf. Jolie Olimpica settled into a comfortable spot a few lengths back, advanced on the far turn, and gradually overtook the longtime leader in deep stretch to clock 1:01.11.
The fastest finish, however, came from Oleksandra. Last to break and in leisurely mood early, the Australian-bred still trailed the field in midstretch. But Oleksandra flew home to miss by a half-length, the difference being Jolie Olimpica’s superior tactics.
Stealthediamonds was the same margin astern in third, followed by early stalker Into Mystic, Just Grazed Me, Miss Hot Legs, and Surrender Now. Ginger Nut was a vet scratch.
Mandella believes that Jolie Olimpica will rate better on her next route.
“She was so relaxed today. She’s settled nicely into our system and now I think she’ll go longer. I think Mike could’ve done whatever he wanted (with her) today.”
“She’s that kind of horse – she deserves to be ridden confidently. She demands it as well. I just let her be and she will get the job done.”
Now 5-for-6 along with a lone second, Jolie Olimpica has bankrolled $271,520. The chestnut romped in her three appearances at Brazil’s Gavea, including the Grande Premio Adayr Eiras de Araujo (G3) and the Grande Premio Jockey Club Brasileiro (G1). That latter conquest of males clinched not only 2-year-old champion filly honors, but the Brazilian Horse of the Year title for the 2018-19 season.
Jolie Olimpica, bred by Stud TNT, has yet to reach her actual fourth birthday. She is out of the Group 1-placed Trempolino mare Jolie Celina, who is also responsible for Group 2 scorer Domenica.