Suarez Racing Inc.'s CALIFORNIA NECTAR (Stormy Atlantic) held off the late run of Zazu (Tapit) to score a neck victory on Saturday in the $150,000 Santa Ynez S. (G2) at Santa Anita Park. With jockey Pat Valenzuela in the saddle, the bay lass set all the pace in the seven-furlong test, drawing off to a 1 1/2-length advantage in the lane before just holding on the line to stop the clock in 1:21 1/5 over the fast dirt.
California Nectar immediately took command of the race, setting splits of :22, :44 1/5 and 1:08 2/5. Tracking to the outside and behind were Plum Pretty (Medaglia d'Oro) and Warren's Flyer (Doc Gus). The latter runner began fading as the field neared the turn, but Zazu was more than willing to take up the slack. Rallying from her rear-running position, the gray miss came three wide on the turn and slowly built up momentum in the stretch. The wire came just in time for California Nectar, who was sent off the 3-1 second choice in the seven-horse field.
"She broke really well, and down the backside I felt like Superman because she felt like super girl -- she was flying," Valenzuela said. "When that filly (Zazu) came to her, my filly picked her head up and tried even harder. I don't think she was ever going to get by us."
The Santa Ynez winner paid $8, $3.60 and $3 for denying her rival, who was worth $2.60 and $2.20 as the 6-5 favorite. The $1 exacta gave back $11.40, and it was another 3 1/4 lengths back to Plum Pretty, who took third to return $2.80 as the near 7-2 third shot. The $1 trifecta came to $32.40 and Star Presence (Forest Wildcat) completed the 1-3-4-2 superfecta ($1) that totaled $100.20.
Teroda (Limehouse), Warren's Flyer and Alec's Moon (Malibu Moon) followed the top four under the wire.
Trainer Doug O'Neill had to saddle California Nectar three times before she broke her maiden, but finally having achieved that first score the conditioner sent her against stakes rivals in her fourth career try. The bay miss responded with a nose second in the California Cup Juvenile Filly S. in late October. She next tried graded company and faded to fourth in the Miesque S. (G3) after dueling on the lead for the opening half.
California Nectar closed out her juvenile campaign in winning style, adding a first stakes to her resume when capturing the fillies division of the California Breeders' Champion S., and now boasts a 7-3-3-0, $213,800, career mark.
Bred in California by Pablo and Michelle Suarez, the sophomore lass is out of multiple stakes-placed Absolute Nectar (Carson City), who has since produced a pair of Atticus offspring in a juvenile filly and yearling colt. This is the same female line as 1984 Epsom Derby (Eng-G1) hero Secreto (Northern Dancer), 1994 Gran Premio d'Italia (Ity-G1) scorer Close Conflict (High Estate [Ire]) and Grade 2-placed stakes winner Newton's Law (Law Society).
Farther back in this family one can find 1969 Kentucky Derby and Preakness conqueror Majestic Prince (Raise a Native) as well as English champion Crowned Prince (Raise a Native).