Two Grade 1 winners and one Grade 2 winner will do battle come Saturday June 16 at BetFair Hollywood Park for the Vanity Handicap (G1). It’s a race that has seen stellar female horses win over the last decade. Winners include Blind Luck (2011), three-time winner Zenyatta (2008-2010) and Azeri (2002-2003). Will one of these modern day females join their star predecessors or will a newcomer join the ranks of Grade 1 stakes winner?
Vanity Handicap (G1) at BetFair Hollywood Park – $250,000 – 1 1/8 miles – All Weather Track
1. Rock and Glory (KY) – Martin Garcia – 114 – Tim Yakteen
2. Include Me Out (KY) – Joe Talamo – 122 – Ron Ellis
3. Zazu (KY) – Joel Rosario – 121 – John Sadler
4. Atlantic Swing (KY) – Mario Gutierrez – 113 – Ben Cecil
5. Love Theway Youare (KY) – Garrett Gomez – 114 – Myung Kwon Cho
6. Zafeen’s Pearl (GB) – Chantal Sutherland – 114 – Tim Yakteen
7. Caelis (GB) – Kevin Krigger – 114 – Peter Miller
8. Ellafitz (KY) – Rafael Bejarano – 120 – Bob Baffert
INCLUDE ME OUT
In our most recent Top Ranked American Horses, the Ron Ellis trained filly took #3. She has won all three of her races in 2012, with all of them in graded company. At Santa Anita, she won the La Canada Stakes (G2) going 1 1/16 miles, then the Santa Margarita Invitational Stakes (G1) going 1 1/8 miles. She had two months between races before capturing the Marjorie L. Everett Handicap (G2) at BetFair Hollywood Park going 1 1/16 miles on the all weather surface. She defeated 4 of the fillies and mares that will be in the Vanity field this Saturday. She’s shown she can sit off the lead or if pace is hot, she can sit back a little further. Either way, this filly will be tough yet again.
Bob Baffert is usually the one doing all the winning. However lately, he has had the bug of runner-up performances in the big races. Bodemeister took 2nd in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, Paynter was 2nd behind Union Rags in the Belmont Stakes. It was no different with this four year old filly on May 19 (Preakness Day). She finished 2nd in the Marjorie L. Everett Handicap. She held the lead until the top of the stretch until Include Me Out passed her and went on to win. She started the year winning the Paseana Handicap, then came back to win the Santa Maria Stakes (G2) at Santa Anita. That made it three in a row as she won the Bayakoa Handicap (G2) to end 2011. The one thing you have to like about this filly is she is game each and every race. She battles right down to the wire even in defeat. Look for her to lead this group early on. If she can get out on moderate fractions, she will be tough to run down.
Three-time graded winner in 2011 (two Grade 1′s and one Grade 2) was forced to the sidelines due to injury after winning the Lady’s Secret Stakes (G1) at Santa Anita on October 1. She was not seen again until the Marjorie L. Everett Handicap on May 19 where she finished 4th beaten 3 1/2 lengths by Include Me Out, Ellafitz and Caelis (GB). It was just the second time in her career not finishing in the top three. Last time was in the Grade 1 Hollywood Starlet Stakes on December 11, 2010 when she was a two year old. Second race back from the layoff, expect a much better race. That might not be good news for the top two. She doesn’t necessarily need Ellafitz and stakes newcomer Rock and Glory to set a quick pace early on, but it wouldn’t hurt.
Over the Winter, trainer Peter Miller picked up this British filly due to the purchase by Brous Stable and Wachtel Stable. She mainly ran in Handicap races at the British tracks. After a terrible debut in which she bobbled at the start and never factored, she has been quite consistent in Allowance company. After three straight runner-up performance, she finally broke through with a win. She stepped up way in class to tackle the top fillies on the grounds and did very well. She finished 3rd in the Marjorie L. Everett, just 2 1/4 lengths behind. I still don’t think she has the talent or experience to stay with Include Me Out, Ellafitz and Zazu.
ROCK AND GLORY
The most inexperienced filly in this field has just four races to her resume, with all of them coming in 2012. This four year old Tim Yakteen trained filly broke her maiden third time out, then circled back less than a month later to win an Allowance by 11 1/2 lengths at BetFair Hollywood Park. She went gate to wire in the 1 1/16 miles race. It shows that she can win on dirt or the all weather surface. She also showed she wants the lead and that might make things more tough for Ellafitz. If they get into a battle, the race goes in favor or Include Me Out and Zazu.
LOVE THEWAY YOUARE
Joel Rosario couldn’t do it. Alonso Quinonez couldn’t do it either. Can Garrett Gomez do it? I’m referring to the fact that this filly hates the gate. Several times during her career she has had bad gates and knocked off her jockey out of the gate. Rosario couldn’t do much as she reared back out of the gate in the La Troienne Stakes (G2) at Churchill Downs on May 4, She was never a factor in the race. Quinonez fell off her after a bobbled start in the Marjorie L. Everett Handicap (G2). So what can happen this weekend? This is a decent filly when she can get passed the gate. She ran 2nd in the Santa Margarita Invitational Stakes behind Include Me Out and had three straight fourth place finishes in the La Canada, Bayakoa and Santa Maria. She’s lost on several occasions to this group and would need a perfect gate and a perfect trip from the veteran rider.
ZAFEEN’S PEARL (GB)
One of two first time starters here in the US. She has shown speed, ability to rate and come from behind. She has a 2nd and 5th in two starts this year. She’s won 4 of 17 races, been 1st or 2nd in 9 of those and another 3rd to add. All of her races have been in non-group Handicaps at tracks across England. On the all weather, she has finished in the top 3 8 out of 12 career races. It’s tough to see her win this race, considering the lack of winning in non-Group and non-Graded experience.
ATLANTIC SWING (KY)
The other first time starter on US soil is a Kentucky bred who has raced all five times in Ireland. She broke her maiden third time out last year, then came back to finish 7th and 3rd in listed stakes. Her last race was November 4 at Dundalk. She has a stalking running style that could help considering a potential speed dual up front. However, with the lack of experience and the long layoff, this filly is going to need a race or two to get back into form as well as prove herself. Tough task against this field.
Ellafitz is the speed of this race and she’s showed 1 1/8 miles is not her strongest distance. She was able to hang on in the Santa Maria, but not her last two. In the Marjorie Everett she was out on the lead alone, not setting fast fractions and Include Me Out still caught her. I expect the same Saturday. Look for Include Me Out to win her fourth in a row. I expect a big run from Zazu, second race back from layoff. Ellafitz will hang on for 3rd. If you want to play a non-favorite as part of exotic wagers look to Caelis (GB). His step up in class was successful last time out. It showed she can compete at this level and is racing against most of the same again.