Michael Talla's CRISP (El Corredor) returned to the same distance over which she won the Santa Ysabel S. (G3) in January to take Saturday's $250,000 Santa Anita Oaks (G1) by a diminishing neck under jockey Joel Rosario. Closely tracking the pace set by All Due Respect (Value Plus), the John Sadler charge moved up to challenge the leader in the lane and got her neck in front of that one while 1-2 favorite Blind Luck (Pollard's Vision) came charging to just miss. Crisp stopped the clock in 1:43 2/5 for 1 1/16 miles over the Pro-Ride to move her record to 5-3-0-1.
"The blinkers made a big difference," Rosario said. "She was more focused today and she was into the bridle. She finished great, but she tried to lay on that filly inside of her (All Due Respect), but she always does that. She ran great, she never looked back today."
While All Due Respect set splits of :24 4/5, :49 3/5, 1:13 4/5 and 1:37 2/5, Rosario kept a snug hold on Crisp just to the outside. Cozi Rosie (Pleasantly Perfect) was running a little farther behind, but fell back when the top pair hit the stretch. All the while, Blind Luck was biding her time in the rear and began her move once exiting the turn. As Crisp and All Due Respect battled it out on the front end, Blind Luck was steadily picking off horses while running down the center of the track.
Then, jockey Rafael Bejarano inexplicably angled Blind Luck to the inside right as she started hitting her best stride. At the same moment, All Due Respect was drifting closer to the rail, and the Grade 1-winning miss found her path blocked. Bejarano sent her back to the outside, but it was a case of too little, too late. Crisp stuck her neck in front to take the win, with All Due Respect holding second by that same margin over Blind Luck.
"I was in a good position, but when we came into the stretch, those two fillies in front of me (Crisp and All Due Respect), tightened up and my hole closed," Bejarano said. "We just ran out of time -- she was really running."
"We got beat the whole way," simply stated Blind Luck's trainer, Jerry Hollendorfer.
Sent off the 5-1 third choice in the seven-horse field, Crisp paid $13.60, $8 and $2.80 while starting the $1 exotics worth $47.80 (exacta), $99.20 (trifecta) and $644.80 (2-4-5-6 superfecta). All Due Respect gave back $8.20 and $3.20 at 6-1, and Blind Luck returned $2.10 to her disappointed backers. It was another neck back to Warren's Jitterbug (Affirmative), with Cozi Rosie, Zilva (Successful Affair) and Riviera Chic (Medaglia d'Oro) completing the order under the wire. Sister Dawn (Indian Charlie) was withdrawn.
Crisp ran third in her career debut on November 15 at Hollywood Park while going 6 1/2 furlongs, then broke her maiden by three parts of a length when stretching out to 8 1/2 furlongs on December 10. She made her stakes bow a winning one in the Santa Ysabel, and ran fourth behind winner Blind Luck in the Las Virgenes S. (G1) last out. The dark bay miss more than doubled her earnings to $252,120.
"We were hoping to lay a little closer today because it look like there was a lot of speed in here so the tactics were drawn up and worked today for her," Sadler explained. "She's fourth beaten three the other day in the last stakes (Las Virgenes); she ran very well. There was no pace that day and she put in a good run and couldn't get there so we thought we would have her lay up closer today. I hope we'll go to the Kentucky Oaks (G1) with her. I mean that's the plan. She's got good stamina and can run a big distance."
Bred by James Jones and Randy Swanson in Kentucky, Crisp sold for $160,000 at the 2008 Keeneland September Yearling Sale and is the first registered foal out of the unraced Sir Cat mare Cat's Fair. She has a pair of younger half-sisters, a juvenile miss by Mr. Greeley and a yearling filly by Street Sense. Cat's Fair is herself a half-sibling to Thorough Fair (Quiet American), who is the dam of Grade 1-winning sire Whywhywhy (Mr. Greeley) and Grade 2 victor Spellbinder (Tale of the Cat). Crisp's third dam is Equal Change (Arts and Letters), runner-up in the 1975 Coaching Club American Oaks (G1).
Other notables in the family include Group 2 scorer Nayyir (Indian Ridge); Grade 3 winner Andromeda's Hero (Fusaichi Pegasus), second in the 2005 Belmont S. (G1); and stakes heroine Make Change (Roberto), who placed in the Alabama S. (G1), Coaching Club American Oaks, Mother Goose S. (G1), Ladies H. (G1), Ruffian H. (G1), Gazelle H. (G1) and Monmouth Oaks (G1) in 1988.