Uncle Mo Filly takes Aim at Kentucky Oaks
Heavily favored Dream Tree ran her unbeaten skein to four as she demolished five rival sophomore fillies in Sunday’s Grade II, $200,000 Las Virgenes Stakes, winning by 3 ¾ lengths under Drayden Van Dyke. Conditioned by Bob Baffert, the 3-year-old daughter of Uncle Mo got a flat mile over Santa Anita’s main track in 1:39.45.
Third, about six lengths off the lead while in-hand at the half mile pole, Dream Tree cruised into contention around the far turn, easily overtook her stablemate Thirteen Squared at the top of the lane and easily held sway over a late running Exuberance at the wire.
“I was trying to be patient because I felt we were kind of going a little quick and we were for this track,” said Van Dyke. “We’ve been working on her in the mornings and it’s worked out. I’ve been able to get her to relax and finish well, so what else could you ask for?
“I’m excited about her. Hopefully she stays good and sound and gets even better. I think she will.”
A winner of the Grade I, 1 1/16 miles Starlet Stakes at Los Alamitos Dec. 9, Dream Tree is now unbeaten in four starts. Off as the 1-5 favorite, she paid $2.60, $2.10 and $2.10.
Owned by Phoenix Thoroughbred III, Dream Tree, who was purchased for $750,000 at a 2-year-old in training sale this past March, picked up $120,000 for the win, boosting her earnings to $390,000.
“I just love the way she sat off those front-runners,” said Baffert. “I know she has a lot of speed. I think she’s getting better mentally and she’s relaxing and she brought it at the end.”
When asked if Dream Tree will “stay home” for her next start, Tom Ludt, Vice President of Phoenix Thoroughbred III responded, “Yeah, we’ll stay here and point for the Santa Anita Oaks (Grade I, 1 1/16 miles on April 7).”
Next to last with a quarter of a mile to run, Exuberance rallied well for the place, finishing a half length in front of Steph Being Steph.
Off at 16-1 with Corey Nakatani, Exuberance paid $5.80 and $2.80.
Fractions on the race were 23.22, 46.68, 1:11.73 and 1:25.16.
Note: The winner picks up 10 Kentucky Oaks qualifying points, while the second, third and fourth place finishers were awarded four, two and one point(s) respectively.
Live racing resumes at Santa Anita on Thursday, with first post time for an eight-race card at 1 p.m. Santa Anita will be open for simulcast wagering on Wednesday, with free parking and admission. Gates will open at 10 a.m.