Ricky Gonzalez rides Leggs Galore to a wire-to-wire victory in the Fran’s Valentine Stakes for California-breds
In her first two turn assignment, William Sims’ homebred Leggs Galore went to the lead and never looked back, taking Sunday’s $100,000 Fran’s Valentine Stakes at Santa Anita in Arcadia, Calif., by three quarters of a length over heavily favored Warren’s Showtime. Trained by Phil D’Amato and ridden by Ricky Gonzalez, Leggs Galore got one mile on turf in 1:34.85.
With a pair of scratches earlier in the day, the Fran’s Valentine was reduced to a field of four older California-bred fillies and mares. To the surprise of no one, Leggs Galore bounced out of the gate from her rail post and turned the race into a virtual parade to the far turn, with Kristi’s Tiger a length and a half off the lead three furlongs out and Warren’s Showtime another half length back.
With the chestnut Warren’s Showtime in high gear mid-way around the turn, she had the leader well within her sights while two lengths back turning for home, but Leggs Galore never backed up and in fact maintained her advantage on the gallop out around the Club House turn.
“The main thing with her is trying to get her to relax, get a breather down the backside,” said Gonzalez, who has now ridden the 4-year-old daughter of Bayern in her last six starts, winning five of them. “I knew that if she got it, that little breather, that she would be just fine because her speed is her main weapon and she proved that today.”
A well beaten sixth as the 6-5 favorite in the six furlong turf Mizdirection Stakes versus open company here on April 17, Leggs Galore was the second choice today at 2-1 and she paid $6.00 and $2.60 with no show wagering.
“It opens the big door, to where we have two options and just kind of pick the right spot that suits her best,” D’Amato said, when asked by TVG’s Britney Eurton about winning around two turns. “There’s a nice little Grade 3 at the end of the meet and I might try her in there,” said D’Amato. “I think it’s the Wilshire ($100,000, at one mile on turf June 20). When I saw 23, I was thinking 22 and change, 23 if we are lucky, and when I saw that, I thought we had no excuses and we’ll see what she’s made of. Ricky did a beautiful job.”
Out of Sims’ Indian Charlie mare Cashing Tickets, Leggs Galore now has three stakes wins and six victories from nine overall starts. With today’s winner’s share of $60,000, she increased her earnings to $322,708.
Ridden by Juan Hernandez, consistent Warren’s Showtime was perhaps done in by the short field as much as anything else, as she attended the pace, but was unable to threaten the winner despite mounting a solid stretch rally.
Off at 3-5, Warren’s Showtime paid $2.10 to place while finishing 3 ½ lengths clear of Pulpit Rider.
Fractions on the race were 23.00, 46.77, 1:10.96 and 1:22.93.
The Fran’s Valentine, named for the multiple Grade 1 stakes winning Earl Scheib homebred daughter of Saros, is part of the lucrative Golden State Series. Sponsored by the CTBA, the Golden State Series is for eligible California-bred or sired horses.
Live racing resumes on Friday, with first post time for an eight-race card at 1 p.m. Fans are advised that admission gates will open at 7 a.m. for Preakness Day simulcasting on Saturday, with Infield Admission gates opening at 9 a.m.
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