There were two races on Saturday with Kentucky Oaks (G1) implications – the $125,000 Martha Washington Stakes at Oaklawn Park and Tampa Bay Downs’ $55,000 Suncoast Stakes – and both contests produced upset wins.
The one-mile Martha Washington is part of the Road to the Kentucky Oaks series of points races and was worth 10-4-2-1 points to the respective top four finishers.
Chanel’s Legacy, sent off the 13-1 third longest shot on the board, took home the winner’s share of those points when easily defeating fellow 18-1 longshot My Sweet Stella by 2 1/2 lengths. The gray daughter of Dominus stalked the early pace set by 8-5 favorite Perfect Wife through splits of :23.51 and :46.90 before taking the lead and easily pulling away to stop the clock in 1:38.51 over the fast main track.
The Poindexter Thoroughbred LLC homebred paid $28.20 for her win, which came one month after she took the Dixie Belle Stakes at Oaklawn by 2 1/2 lengths under returning jockey Alex Birzer.
Chanel’s Legacy made her racing debut in her home state of Iowa, finishing third in the Iowa Sorority Stakes last August at Prairie meadows. After breaking her maiden at Remington Park, the Lynn Chleborad trainee took the E. L. Gaylord Memorial Stakes at that Oklahoma venue before traveling to Louisiana for a fourth-place run in the Delta Downs Princess (G3). She returned to Remington for another fourth, this time in the Trapeze Stakes, which closed out her juvenile campaign on December 11.
Chanel’s Legacy, who will now target the $200,000 Honeybee Stakes (G3) on March 11 at Oaklawn, improved her record to read 7-4-0-1 and has banked $234,394 in lifetime earnings.
MARTHA WASHINGTON QUOTES
Lynn Chleborad, trainer Chanel’s Legacy, winner
“(Jockey) Alex (Birzer) and I talked in our tack room this morning for half an hour, and we tried to figure out how we were going…this filly can go to the front or she has tactical speed. It’s very good because she is ratable. And they did go pretty quick fractions when they go :23 and 2/5 and :46 and 4/5. That’s not exactly walking the dog, you know. I think that’s kind of fast. I’m like, ‘Ooh, I hope she has enough to finish.’ She just kept going.
“But she trains like that. She trains like that in the morning. She was ready for this race, and I feel we had her as good as we could get her. She showed that she can do that.
Alex Birzer, jockey Chanel’s Legacy, winner
“She ran huge. She put me in a great spot. She just sat there as the leader weakened. She just picked it up an extra notch and just kept at her business.”
Did you expect her to be that close to the pace?
“We figured she would, as that’s just her nature. In the first sixteenth she was very keen to run, but going into the turn I got her to throttle down and she relaxed so nice. Coming out of the first turn and on the backside I was very pleased because I didn’t think she would relax so well for me. But she did, she rated so nice. Lynn’s group did a wonderful job prepping her for this route.”
Carlos Marquez Jr., jockey My Sweet Stella, second
“The best horse didn’t win the race. I was on the best horse. If I don’t get stopped cold like that, I win.”
Ken McPeek, trainer Perfect Wife, last of eight
“(Jockey) Corey (Lanerie) said she hit the gate really hard, and she busted her mouth pretty good. So maybe in hindsight we probably should have scratched her. She’s got a pretty good cut in her mouth. But she’ll be fine. We’ll regroup.”
Earlier on Saturday, Tapa Tapa Tapa easily held off 1-5 favorite Elate to wire the Suncoast Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs by three lengths. With Jesus Castanon aboard, the gray daughter of Tapit finished the mile-and-40-yard contest in 1:39.91, just .55 seconds off the stakes record, to earn her first stakes victory in her dirt debut.
Tapa Tapa Tapa previously broke her maiden on the all-weather at Woodbine and captured a turf allowance over that Canadian track. She then tried a pair of graded turf contests, the Natalma Stakes (Can-G1) and Jessamine Stakes (G3), but was unplaced in both to close out her juvenile season.
Bred in Kentucky by Patricia Pavlish and owned by her Beau Ravine outfit, Tapa Tapa Tapa paid $21.40 as the 9-1 third choice. The Tim Hamm trainee is now 6-3-1-0 in her career and has accumulated $101,043 in lifetime earnings.
Tim Hamm, trainer Tapa Tapa Tapa, winner
“We knew what Mr. (Bill) Mott had coming in (as trainer of Elate), but the result didn’t shock us. We are pleasantly happy. She’s a good horse, and she has trained awesome on the dirt since we started here.”
Jesus Castanon, jockey Tapa Tapa Tapa, winner
“She was making it easy. She was a little fussy in the beginning, but she was able to settle down on the backside and once we got to the top of the stretch, I let her pick it up and she went on. She wasn’t really getting tired and I knew she would be tough to beat.”
Bill Mott, trainer Elate, second
“I think she’ll get some benefit out of this race. We got a two-turn race into her today on a tiring track, and I think we have a lot to look forward to.
“This isn’t the end of the season. I ran Royal Delta in this race and she finished ninth, and she won the Breeders’ Cup (Ladies Classic [G1] in 2011).”