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Turbulent Descent just holds in Santa Anita Oaks win
Blinkers On Racing Stable et al's TURBULENT DESCENT (Congrats) gained a measure of revenge on Saturday when holding the late rush of Zazu (Tapit) to take the $250,000 Santa Anita Oaks (G1). The last time the two met, Zazu handed Turbulent Descent her first career loss in the Las Virgenes S. (G1), but Saturday's contest saw their roles reversed as Turbulent Descent got the jump on her rival to post a neck victory under jockey David Flores.
May Day Rose (Rockport Harbor) sped straight to the front from her rail post and proceeded to lead the field through splits of :23 1/5, :46 3/5 and 1:10 3/5. Kilograeme (Graeme Hall) and A Z Warrior (Bernardini) kept the pressure on just in behind, while Flores settled Turbulent Descent into a stalking position behind those two. Zazu was coasting along in her usual rear-running spot beneath Joel Rosario.
The lightly raced Kilograeme, who was making her stakes bow in this spot, began backing up as the field reached the turn, but A Z Warrior was still going strong and ranged up into contention outside of May Day Rose. Flores wasn't about to let Turbulent Descent get left behind as she had in the Las Virgenes, and sent her up to match strides with those two. Zazu was picking it up, and fanned wide around the turn as Turbulent Descent took command in the lane.
Turbulent Descent appeared ready to draw off, but Zazu was game in defeat. She unleashed a monstrous late run but just ran out of room as Turbulent Descent crossed under the wire in a final time of 1:41.05, setting a new stakes record over the fast main track. The previous mark of 1:41.20 was held by Bold 'n Determined in 1980.
"Last time, I didn't want to put too much pressure on my filly because she was coming off a layoff and because we had so much rain, she had missed a work," Flores said. "Today, I was very confident she was going to run big. I took a peek back at the three-eighths pole and I saw the gray shadow (Zazu), so I knew where she was. At the quarter-pole I let her go and she gave me everything."
Despite losing to Zazu in the Las Virgenes, Turbulent Descent was sent off the even-money favorite in this one and returned $4, $2.40 and $2.10. Zazu was 5 1/2 lengths clear of A Z Warrior, who returned to competition in this spot off a last-place run in the November 5 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1). It was another 5 1/4 lengths back to Kilograeme, with May Day Rose rounding out the order under the wire. (Photo Courtesy of Benoit Photos)
"Today we just ran out of ground and I think that's the difference," Rosario said. "I'm not disappointed, we almost got in there. She tried. She's a nice horse but the other horse (Turbulent Descent) ran big today too."
"She really ran well, so we're really excited," trainer John Sadler said of Zazu. "She ran great, and she looks like she'll be ready for the Kentucky Oaks (G1). If the race were a little longer, she may have gotten there. I was really happy with the race -- other than not winning, she ran great."
Turbulent Descent's return to the winner's circle boosted her earnings to $528,350 and her line reads 5-4-1-0. She's now gone off favored every single time she's touched hoof to track, including when breaking her maiden debut by three parts of a length on October 3 during the Oak Tree meet. Given nearly a two-month break, the filly was brought back to try stakes rivals in only her second start and passed that test with flying colors when adding a 1 1/2-length score in the November 21 Moccasin S. to her resume.
The bay lass made her final foray over a synthetic track when producing an impressive victory in the Hollywood Starlet S. (G1) in December, and posted her first try as a sophomore in the Las Virgenes. Though unable to catch Zazu on that occasion, Turbulent Descent has been untouchable in every other start.
"She was a little fitter today, obviously (than she was running second to Zazu in the Las Virgenes)," trainer Mike Puype said. "Having had the layoff last time when it was raining, I gave her a lot of walking days and that helped.
"I basically told (the owners before this race), I'm afraid after watching her work so brilliantly every time that this (distance) would be max for her. She won the Starlet (at a mile and a sixteenth), she won this, so to say she can't do it is not right, because she's done it. But let's face it; the video on her first two races were breathtaking. I know the company wasn't as strong as it is now, but look at how she cruised up into the turn (today) like a beast. She's a lot of horse going one turn."
Puype ruled out the May 6 Kentucky Oaks going nine furlongs at Churchill Downs, but mentioned the June 11 Acorn S. (G1) going a mile at Belmont Park and the seven-furlong Test S. (G1) on August 6 at Saratoga as considerations.
Turbulent Descent was a $160,000 OBS April two-year-old purchase by Blinkers On Racing Stable. Bred by Ocala Stud in Florida, she is the first stakes winner out of the unraced Forestry mare Roger's Sue, who has since foaled an unnamed juvenile colt by Trippi.
With her third dam being multiple Grade 1-winning millionaire Gorgeous (Slew o' Gold), Turbulent Descent comes from the family of last year's Falmouth S. (Eng-G1) heroine Music Show (Noverre) as well as 2009 Ruffian H. (G1) and Delaware H. (G2) victress Swift Temper (Giant's Causeway). Turbulent Descent's fourth dam is Broodmare of the Year and Canadian champion Kamar (Key to the Mint), who would go on in the breeding shed to produce the likes of Canadian champion and sire Key to the Moon (Wajima) as well as 1990 Kentucky Oaks (G1) queen Seaside Attraction (Seattle Slew).
Kamar is also the granddam of European Horse of the Year and stallion Fantastic Light (Rahy), champion two-year-old filly Golden Attraction (Mr. Prospector), Grade 1-winning sire Cape Town (Seeking the Gold) and Grade 3-scoring stallion Cape Canaveral (Mr. Prospector).