May 26, 2024

India Mantuana steals spotlight in Red Carpet

India Mantuana could not be caught under an enterprising Tyler Baze in Del Mar's Red Carpet © BENOIT PHOTO

Under a masterclass of a ride by Tyler Baze, the 18-1 India Mantuana lulled her rivals to sleep early in the $101,035 Red Carpet H. (G3), opened up an insurmountable lead, and held on to upset the Thanksgiving Day feature at Del Mar.

Baze had engineered a similar coup aboard India Mantuana over this very 1 3/8-mile circuit on August 22, when she raced for the $40,000 tag. Trainer Ray Bell promptly claimed her out of that 2 1/4-length wire job, and kept Baze in the saddle. The four-year-old daughter of Wilburn made her first start for new owner Richard Bell (not related to the trainer according to track publicity) in a one-mile allowance at Santa Anita, finishing fourth, but enjoyed the different dynamics here.

India Mantuana was one of two plausible pace factors in the Red Carpet. The other, Escape Clause, wasn’t overly eager to go forward from the far outside post 9, on a substantial step up in trip. Once India Mantuana easily secured an uncontested lead, the clock in Baze’s head took over, and the rest were caught napping. He doled out her speed through fractions of :24.06, :47.78, and 1:12.95, by that point a full eight lengths in front despite the sensible pace.

The 6-5 favorite, Vexatious, was confidently anchored in last even as India Mantuana reached the mile in 1:37.51, and her tactical position appeared hopeless. The front runner kept up her gallop well enough into the stretch before beginning to labor, with the closers in frantic pursuit, and Baze had judged it just right.

India Mantuana lasted by a half-length from Siberian Iris, who was the same margin up on the dead-heating pair of Escape Clause and the too-late Vexatious. By negotiating 1 3/8 firm-turf miles in 2:14.50, India Mantuana paid $39.60 to win and improved her record to 24-6-2-4, $222,047.

Thrice stakes-placed earlier in her career back East, India Mantuana was third in the 2016 Wait a While and second in the 2017 Ginger Brew for trainer Antonio Sano, who had bought her for a bargain $8,000 as a Keeneland September yearling. She was later acquired by Head of Plains Partners and Sterling Road Stables and transferred to Chad Brown, with her best effort a third in last summer’s Alywow. India Mantuana raced a couple of times for Brad Cox, RNA’d for $65,000 at Keeneland November, then switched circuits to Phil D’Amato on the West Coast. After failing to clear her second-level allowance condition in three tries, she was dropped in for the tag.

India Mantuana was bred by Paul Knapper in Kentucky. Her dam, Minnesota-bred stakes winner Speed Wagon, is by Tomorrows Cat from a cadet branch of the celebrated Generals Sister line.

Quotes from Del Mar

Winning rider Tyler Baze: “You know, when I was young and played baseball, I was really fast. Stole a lot of bases. Think I might have stolen a horse race here. That (going far to the front) wasn’t really the plan. It just happened. I just wanted to ride her like I did here last summer; not fight her; let her do her thing. She was just going easy out there. Sometimes it isn’t how fast they’re running, it’s how they’re doing it. She was doing it the right way today.”

Winning trainer Ray Bell: “I had the binoculars on her and she just kept getting farther and farther in front. I could see she had her ears pricked and was very relaxed. I was amazed that somebody didn’t go with her. That was the only chink in her armor if somebody would have gone with her and softened her up. She doesn’t have that real acceleration but she’s a real staying type filly. She keeps up that one pace and just keeps on going and doesn’t give up.”

Jockey Flavien Prat on runner-up Siberian Iris: “I asked her and she gave me a very good kick. The winner just got away from us.”

Rafael Bejarano, who rode favored Vexatious to a dead-heat third: “She ran good, but the winner had it too easy out there.”

Jockey Ruben Fuentes on co-third-placer Escape Clause: “She ran great again; only got beat a little way. These are graded stakes mares and she is right there with them. She’s got a big heart.”