Santa Barbara Digs Deep, Surges Late To Win Belmont Oaks

In a race that looked like Con Lima might win wire-to-wire, Santa Barbara capitalized on the potential she showed as a 2-year-old and surged past Con Lima to steal the victory in the waning strides of the Grade 1 Belmont Oaks Invitational at Belmont Park in Elmont, N.Y.

After finishing second in her last race at the Curragh June 27, Santa Barbara came into the mile and a quarter Belmont Oaks winless in her previous starts of 2021. Aidan O’Brien had been high on the daughter of Camelot (GB) and sent her stateside for the G1 Belmont Oaks, with jockey Ryan Moore on board. At the break, it was all Con Lima, taking an easy lead and controlling the pace throughout the first nine furlongs. Behind her were Spanish Loveaffair, Nazuna, and Higher Truth, all biding their time for the stretch. Santa Barbara hung toward the back of the pack, and, as the field came into the final turn, Santa Barbara had a challenge ahead of her.

With a wall of horses in front of him, Moore tried to take Santa Barbara along the hedge on the turn, coming into the stretch searching for running room somewhere. With Con Lima still leading, Moore moved Santa Barbara toward the middle of the track, finally finding running room between horses with only a sixteenth of a mile to go. Santa Barbara accelerated, quickly shrinking the gap between her and Con Lima and flashing under the wire a half-length to the good. Con Lima just held on for second, with Higher Truth in third and Gam’s Mission fourth. The final time for the mile and a quarter was 2:03.76.

Find this race’s chart here.

Ryan Moore acknowledged the challenging run Santa Barbara had ahead of her in the stretch. “It was quite a steadily run race. They lined up and I was hoping Nazuna [No. 6] would drop away a bit sooner. I didn’t want to waste too much petrol by going around her. She got class. She’s got ability. She won without me moving a muscle.

“I had to go out one switch [path] and I didn’t want to, but I had to. We’re lucky we got out in time. She done it very easily. I’m very happy with her.”

O’Brien assistant T. J. Comerford was pleased with Santa Barbara’s performance in the Belmont Oaks. “She’s been used to faster ground, so it probably took her a while to pick things up today on that slow ground. That was a good performance for her. Ryan [Moore] knows her better than anyone and he knew that she had plenty of speed, so it was never a problem. She showed plenty of turn of foot in her other Group 1 starts in the Oaks and at the Curragh, she got beat by a good older filly [Thundering Nights]. She’s getting better as she gets on. Anytime you win a Group 1 is great.”

Bred in Ireland by Whisperview Trading Limited, Santa Barbara is by Camelot out of the Danehill mare Senta’s Dream. The 3-year-old filly is owned by Mrs. John Magnier, Michael Tabor, Derrick Smith, and Westerberg. With her win in the Belmont Oaks, Santa Barbara improves to a record of two wins in five lifetime starts.

The post Santa Barbara Digs Deep, Surges Late To Win Belmont Oaks appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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