February 26, 2024

Anisette storms from last to first in Del Mar Oaks; Beholder’s filly Tamara wins debut

Anisette blows through on the inside in the Del Mar Oaks (Photo © Benoit Photo)

As the region braces for Hurricane Hilary, a more benevolent force of nature blew through Del Mar on Saturday – 4-5 favorite Anisette, who stormed from last to first in the $302,500 Del Mar Oaks (G1).

The British import was very much the one to beat after her decisive victory in the July 23 San Clemente (G2). But she was so much the best in the Del Mar Oaks that she made her own luck, and enabled jockey Umberto Rispoli to mastermind a “dream run,” in the words of track announcer Trevor Denman.

Trained by Leonard Powell for Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, Anisette was unhurried early, dropping to the rear by the time they left the chute and joined the course proper. She anchored the 10-filly field as Ruby Nell led the way through splits of :23.84, :47.21, and 1:11.92.

Then Anisette began threading her way through the pack. Rispoli had to decide in a split second rounding the far turn whether to angle out. He was about to steer when a gigantic seam opened up on the rail, and he diverted Anisette to the inside swinging into the lane. She had the agility and gears to execute that maneuver in a flash.

With an entire stretch of daylight in front of her, the only questions were how fast Anisette would strike the front, and how far a margin she would rack up. The favorite rapidly left not only Ruby Nell, but the closing Be Your Best and Impact Warrior, in her wake. Drawing 2 3/4 lengths clear, Anisette finished 1 1/8 miles in 1:48.15.

New York shipper Be Your Best prevailed by a neck over Impact Warrior for runner-up honors. Ruby Nell tired to fourth, followed by Infinite Diamond, Window Shopping, And Tell Me Nolies, Absolutely Zero, Big Pond, and the eased Paris Secret.

Now 3-for-3 stateside, and with a four-race winning streak going back to her British juvenile days, Anisette has compiled a record of 6-4-1-0, $346,866.

“Her turn of foot made the difference at the top of the lane,” Powell said. “I didn’t think we’d be so far back, especially with a half mile in :47, but she was good enough to overcome that and close the ground. He (Rispoli) kept his cool; we got a dream run on the rail and he had the horse to do it. She’s the goods.”

“I knew I was on the best filly,” Rispoli said, “and that helped me ride her the way I did. I thought about going outside and I knew the pace wasn’t in my favor. But then things opened a bit inside and I went.

“They tell me I ride like Fernando Toro did,” the rider added, in a timely reference. “I know what that means. It’s a great honor.”

Toro, the newly-minted Hall of Famer who couldn’t travel to Saratoga Springs for the induction ceremony, was instead honored with the formalities at Del Mar Saturday. He also presented the Del Mar Oaks trophy to the winning connections. Adding to the day’s festivities, Denman received the Laffit Pincay Jr. Award in a special presentation.

Another fan favorite, Hall of Famer Beholder, was on the scene vicariously. Her juvenile daughter Tamara made a stylish debut in the seventh race, for Beholder’s own trainer, Richard Mandella.

The Spendthrift Farm homebred by Bolt d’Oro overcame a troubled start, knuckling from her rail post and ducking briefly to the inside, to secure a decent stalking position. Under Mike Smith, she peeled out and rolled past front-running favorite Hope Road by 2 1/4 lengths. Tamara clocked 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:17.37 and opened her account with a deposit of $49,200.

Beholder has now produced two winners. Her three-year-old filly, Teena Ella (by War Front), was last seen landing the May 6 Senorita (G3). Beholder’s yearling colt by Curlin just sold for $4 million to top the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Sale.

The happy scenes provided at least temporary respite from the worrisome weather forecast. The hurricane is projected to dump heavy rain in the region, prompting the cancellation of Sunday racing at Del Mar and also at Los Alamitos.