ARCADIA, Calif. (AP) Tara’s Tango rallied from off the pace to collar 4-5 favorite Taris late and win the $500,000 Santa Margarita Stakes for older fillies and mares by a length Saturday at Santa Anita.
Ridden by Rafael Bejarano, Tara’s Tango ran 1 1/8 miles in 1:50.44 and paid $7.20, $3 and $2.40 as the 5-2 second choice.
Taris returned $2.40 and $2.10, while Living The Life was another 1 1/4 lengths back in third and paid $3 to show.
Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer added blinkers for the first time to restrict Tara’s Tango’s vision. It paid off with her first Grade 1 stakes win.
“The blinkers made a big difference today, they helped me a lot from the gate,” Bejarano said. “I waited for the opportunity and when we got to the stretch, she gave me a good turn of foot and I knew I could beat the favorite.”
The victory, worth $300,000, increased Tara’s Tango’s career earnings to $618,004, with four wins in 10 starts.
Smoove It rallied four-wide turning for home and went on to win the $100,000 Irish O’Brien Stakes by 3 1/4 lengths after surviving a stewards’ inquiry over an incident at the top of the stretch.
Ridden by Flavien Prat, Smoove It ran 6 1/2 furlongs on the hillside turf course in 1:12.83 and paid $14.40, $4 and $2.40 for her first stakes win.
Velvet Mesquite returned $2.40 and $2.10 as the 2-5 favorite. Qiaona rallied from last to finish a half-length back in third and paid $2.10 to show.
Velvet Mesquite was third approaching the quarter pole, but had her momentum stopped when Smoove It ducked in. The stewards ruled that although the winner drifted in, causing Velvet Mesquite to steady, the incident didn’t cost the favorite a chance at a higher placing.
“He (Prat) had sufficient clearance because I gave it to him,” said Kent Desormeaux, aboard the favorite. “If I don’t get out of there, I’m going to clip heels. I don’t know how you could say that he had sufficient clearance because I had to give it to him.”
Trained by Doug O’Neill, Smoove It earned her fifth win in 23 career starts. The victory, worth $60,000, increased her earnings to $338,575.
Prat was substituting for Smoove It’s regular rider Mario Gutierrez.