November 28, 2023

Spiced Perfection defeats open rivals in La Brea; River Boyne delivers in Mathis Brothers Mile

Spiced Perfection winning the 2018 La Brea (G1) © BENOIT PHOTO

A three-time stakes winner over California-bred rivals, Spiced Perfection made the jump to open stakes company a winning one in Wednesday’s $300,000 La Brea (G1) at Santa Anita. The Brian Koriner-trained daughter of Smiling Tiger launched a wide rally to strike the front in midstretch and edged away to a 1 ¼-length decision in the seven-furlong test for three-year-old fillies, scoring as the 5-1 third choice beneath Flavien Prat.

Grade 1 winner Dream Tree sustained her first career setback in the opening-day event, weakening to finish last of eight as the 3-5 favorite after showing speed to the far turn.

Owned by Michael Faber’s Dare to Dream Stable LLC, Spiced Perfection was exiting a 2 ¼-length victory in the restricted Betty Grable at Del Mar on November 11 and has now captured three of her last four starts. She won the Generous Portion at Del Mar as a juvenile and the Evening Jewel at Santa Anita earlier this season.

Her overall record improved to 14-6-4-2, with $622,405 in earnings, and the bay lass has now made four starts against open rivals, finishing third in the grassy Unzip Me on September 29 and winning a dirt allowance/optional claiming event on August 24. Bred by Premier Thoroughbreds LLC, Spiced Perfection was purchased for $50,000 at the 2017 Barrett’s two-year-old sale.

Breaking from the far outside among eight rivals, Spiced Perfection raced within striking range from the break, stalking wide behind a contested pace in :22.68 and :45.68. She rallied with momentum into the stretch and grinded her way to the front, overhauling 33-1 outsider Hot Autumn, who chased the pace from the start.

“She ran big,” said Prat, who picked up the mount in the Betty Grable. “She broke off nice and then I was outside in the clear. She was comfortable the entire way. Around the turn I was going pretty well so I thought I had a shot. As soon as I asked her, she responded well and ran big. Brian didn’t say much beforehand. She’s been training well and I thought her last race was really nice so we were confident today. She’s really push-button. I really thought she’d run well today.”

“She really did it on her own,” Koriner added. “(Prat) even had to slow her down on the backside because she was running up there. I was just hoping she wasn’t too fresh and get tired late. It was a great move up, to have little pedigree and win a Grade 1, I don’t know what that does for her but we’re happy. She’s got over half a million dollars now so that always helps.”

Spiced Perfection stopped the teletimer in 1:23.54.

Emboldened closed near the back of the pack to finish a head back in third at 10-1 and it was another 1 ¾ lengths back to 7-2 second choice Happy Like a Fool in fourth.

Koriner appreciates how the state-bred Spiced Perfection keeps exceeding expectations.

“We got an offer for her for half a million dollars (after the Betty Grable) and they were going to let me keep her,” the trainer said. “They made the offer before they ever looked at her and then took back the offer. It was a done deal and they backed out. So it was good to see her win after somebody said ‘no we don’t want her.’”

One race later on the program, River Boyne remained perfect on Santa Anita’s turf with a game win in the $200,000 Mathis Brothers Mile (G2). Prat was up on the 2-5 favorite, who prevailed by a head over the late-charging Desert Stone, and the Irish-bred colt notched his fifth stakes victory in the one-mile affair for sophomores.

River Boyne is now six-for-six on Santa Anita’s turf for owners Red Baron’s Barn LLC and Rancho Temescal LLC. Jeff Mullins trains the son of Dandy Man, who dropped his first three starts overseas before being imported to the United States.

Winner of the November 4 Twilight Derby (G2) and La Jolla (G3) in early August, River Boyne was exiting a half-length second in the December 1 Hollywood Derby (G1) at Del Mar. The dark bay colt raced well off a solid early pace (:22.68, :46.14 and 1:10.21 and made his move on the far turn, rallying boldly to the front in deep stretch.

“He’s solid. You know when you lead him over here he’s going to give it you,” Mullins said. “He might not get it every time but he’s going to give it you. I thought Flavien might have had him (River Boyne) a little too far back but he (Prat) knows more of what he’s got under him than I do.”

Desert Stone didn’t experience the cleanest trip from the tail of the 10-horse field but closed fast when clear in the stretch to just miss at 10-1, a half-length better than 14-1 Combatant, who was making his turf bow for Steve Asmussen. It was another length to fourth-placer Fight On.

River Boyne was timed in 1:34.52.