The $100K Santa Barbara Stakes (G3) at Santa Anita Park was won by NEIGE BLANCHE, ridden by Juan Hernandez, trained by Leonard Powell, owned by Madaket Stables LLC, Laura De Seroux, Marsha Naify, and Mathilde Powell — in a thrilling finish.
NEIGE BLANCHE broke well and took her place in mid pack, five lengths off of pacesetter TAPWATER, who set early fractions of 23.72, 48.08, and 1:13.56. They raced unchanged through the backside as they quickened the tempo for home. Juan Hernandez makes his move as they rounded the turn, swinging his filly three wide for her run, while RIDEFORTHECAUSE move up along the rail waiting for an opening.
When they straightened for the stretch, NEIGE BLANCHE and RIDEFORTHECAUSE were the ones going the strongest. They hook up down the lane, rolling past TAPWATER who was fading.
There was no separating the NEIGE BLANCHE and RIDEFORTHECAUSE as they stormed to the wire together — but the photo finish would reveal NEIGE BLANCHE won the head bob and nosed out her rival for the win. RIDEFORTHECAUSE therefore settles for second. It was almost two lengths back to TAPWATER in third. The final time for the one mile and one-half was 2:28.01.
NEIGE BLANCHE paid $13.40 to win, $7.00 to place, and $3.60 to show. She is by ANODIN out of BIANCA NEVE by MUHTATHIR. She earned her first U.S. victory and graded score, while pushing her earnings to $181.844.
"It was really close, it could probably go both ways, 50-50, inside or outside, and thanks to my filly, we got it," jockey Juan Hernandez said. "It was better, because last time (a fourth-place finish in the Grade III Santa Ana Stakes at Santa Anita on March 27) I think we were a little too close to the pace. Today, I was a little bit more (relaxed).
"Honestly, I thought the inside (Rideforthecause) got it," trainer Leonard Powell said. "If we were going to be in front, it was going to have to be a lucky bob, and it was a lucky bob. Today, she proved that she belongs and that she was worth the investment."
Source: Art Wilson, Dailynews