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Enola Gray runs away with Irish O'Brien Stakes

Saturday, March 18th, 2017

Benoit & Associates
Enola Gray's next start could be the Royal Heroine on April 8.

ARCADIA, Calif. – Enola Gray has proven herself the queen of the hill at Santa Anita, and now she’ll get a chance to step up and try better competition and longer distances following her runaway victory Saturday in the $100,690 Irish O’Brien Stakes for California-bred female sprinters on the hillside turf course.

The win was the third on this course in as many starts for Enola Gray, who has now won six times in nine tries. But her aptitude on the turf has caused her trainer, Phil D’Amato, to believe she can stretch out and face open company, and she may very well get that chance in three weeks in the Grade 2, $200,000 Royal Heroine on April 8, a day headlined by the Santa Anita Derby.

“If she comes out of this good, I’d love to try the Royal Heroine,” D’Amato said as he left the winner’s circle. “I think she’s so much more settled and relaxed running over the grass. I love her stride, the way she bounds over it.”

Enola Gray ($2.80) was heavily favored to beat six rivals. She showed her usual good speed to engage for the lead in the opening quarter, put away longshot Emmy and I prior to a half-mile in 43.46 seconds, then poured it on down the stretch to check in four lengths to the good of Desert Steel.

Lily Kai was another 1 3/4 lengths back in third, then came, in order, Smoove It, Cuddle Alert, Bert’s Melody, and Emmy and I.

Chaulk O Lattey, Late ’n Left, and Roo’s Valentine all were scratched earlier in the day.

Enola Gray completed the about 6 1/2 furlongs on firm turf in 1:11.91.

“She loves the hill, she loves the grass,” said Tyler Baze, who rode Enola Gray.

Enola Gray, 4, is a daughter of Grazen who was bred and is owned by Nick Alexander. The $60,000 first prize from the Irish O’Brien brought her career earnings to more than $500,000.

Enola Gray has won three stakes on turf, all on this course, all against California-breds. She owns two other stakes wins against Cal-breds on dirt. D’Amato will have to talk to Alexander about stretching her out, but that shouldn’t be a hurdle. After all, as he used to say when selling BMWs, Nick can’t say no.


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