Off mounts last weekend due to being kicked in a paddock mishap on May 20, Jessica Pyfer, the 2021 Eclipse Award winner as outstanding jockey, notched her first stakes win Saturday at Santa Anita as she put Bally’s Charm on the lead and never looked back en route to a 5 ¾ length win in the $150,000 Snow Chief Stakes.
The Snow Chief was one of five state-bred stakes on California Gold Rush Day that are part of the lucrative CTBA-sponsored Golden State Series for eligible California-bred or -sired horses. Jockey Juan Hernandez dominated with four stakes wins.
Trained by Jeff Mullins, Red Baron’s Barn homebred Bally’s Charm got 1 1/8 miles on turf in 1:50.21.
The “fittest horse in the race” according to Mullins, Bally’s Charm, fresh off a three-quarter length win going a mile on turf in a first condition state-bred allowance at Santa Anita on April 17, made a visually easy lead while in-hand going into the clubhouse turn. Turning up the backside, even money favorite Smuggler’s Run settled into second, about two lengths back.
Smuggler’s Run loomed ominously around the far turn and a quarter mile out, he pulled to within a half length of the winner. But turning for home, Bally’s Charm seemed to find another gear and was long gone in a thoroughly dominant effort.
“I was waiting for some company to come up with me and it never happened, so I didn’t know what happened behind me, but I knew my horse had so much talent,” said Pyfer, 24. “I’m just so blessed to be here and to be able to ride these kinds of horses and I just hope we can keep moving forward like this. I want to be in the winner’s circle and I love this game.”
Third two starts back in 1 1/8-mile allowance on turf Feb. 4, Bally’s Charm was the second choice in a field of six at 2-1 and paid $6.20.
Owned and bred in California by Red Baron’s Barn LLC and Vaya Con Sue LLC, Bally’s Charm is a 3-year-old gelding by Roi Charmant out of the Arch mare Ballydonnell Drive. Ridden in all six of his starts by Pyfer, he notched his first stakes win and now has three victories from six starts. With the winner’s share of $90,000, he increased his earnings to $191,340.
Royal ‘n Rando, who shipped south from Golden Gate Fields for trainer Steve Specht, finished with a flourish from well off the pace to finish second by a head over Smuggler’s Run
Big Switch Dominates In Melair Stakes
George Krikorian’s homebred Big Switch was completely dominant as the odds-on favorite in the $150,000 Melair Stakes, winning by 4 ¼ lengths and providing leading rider Juan Hernandez with third of four stakes wins on the day. Trained by John Sadler, who coincidentally trained the race’s undefeated namesake, Big Switch got 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.87 while notching her second stakes victory.
Attentive to the early pace set by It’s Simple, Big Switch easily moved on terms with the leader heading into the far turn and had a one length edge on Rose Maddox and Youteyourhonor a quarter mile out. From there, Big Switch widened through the lane, winning like a filly with considerable upside.
A winner of the seven-furlong Golden State Juvenile Fillies in her second start on Nov. 5 at Del Mar, Big Switch was most recently fifth versus open company in a 6 ½ furlong hillside turf allowance on Feb. 25.
Off at 3-5 among a field six sophomore fillies, Big Switch returned $3.40.
By hot sire Mr. Big out of the Malibu Moon mare Two Faced Moon, Big Switch got her third win from five starts and with the winner’s share of $90,000, increased her earnings to $245,544.
Rose Maddox shook loose of Youteyourhonor turning for home and finished some 10 ¼ lengths clear of her for second. Third-place finisher Youteyourhonor drifted out through the lane and finished 9 ½ lengths in front of Everlys Girl.
Carmalita’s Man Drives From Last To Win Crystal Waters
Despite a soft early pace, favored Carmalita’s Man rallied from last to take the $100,000 Crystal Water Stakes by three-quarters of length under Juan Hernandez in his first stakes win on the card. Trained by Dean Pederson and owned by Larry and Ann Jett, the 5-year-old gelding by Mucho Macho Man got one mile on turf in 1:37.26.
With Loud Mouth and Umberto Rispoli showing the way early, Carmelita’s Man settled into a rhythmic stride around the first turn just outside of Irish Heatwave and about three off the lead.
Turning for home, Carmelita’s Man, under confident handling, had about five lengths to make up while three deep and under a hand ride, gained the advantage with about 40 yards to run.
In his first ever stakes engagement, Carmelita’s Man was off as the 7-5 favorite in a field of five and paid $4.80.
Bred in California by Richard Barton Enterprises and Robert Traynor, Carmelita’s Man, who is out of the North Light mare Carmelita, picked up his fifth win from 18 career starts and with the winner’s share of $60,000, increased his earnings to $276,538.
Jimmy Blue Jeans was second, a head in front of Irish Heatwave.
Comebacking Desmond Doss Rallies To Take Thor’s Echo
Idle since October 17, Nick Alexander’s homebred Desmond Doss came back running on Saturday as he rallied for a decisive 2 ¼ length victory in the $100,000 Thor’s Echo Stakes, giving Juan Hernandez consecutive stakes wins on the day. Trained by Steve Miyadi, Desmond Doss, a 6-year-old horse by Grazen, got six furlongs in 1:09.70.
Attentive to the pace, about 1 ½ lengths off pacesetter Fashionably Fast at the half mile pole, Desmond Doss had about 2 ½ lengths to make up at the three furlong marker, angled three-deep turning for home and came away impressively in the final sixteenth of a mile to register his second career stakes victory.
Overlayed at 4-1 from his morning line of 3-1 among a field of five, Desmond Doss returned $10.
Out of Alexander’s now 20-year-old Malek mare Malley Girl, Desmond Doss, who is named for the multiple decorated World War II conscientious objector hero, is now 18-6-2-2 and with the winner’s share of $60,000, increased his earnings to $361,341.
In a much improved effort off of his sixth place finish going 6 ½ furlongs down the hillside turf course in the state-bred Sensational Star Stakes March 20, Harris Farms’ homebred Fashionably Fast held Tigre Di Slugo safe by a half length for second.
Hernandez Pilots Alice Marble In Fran’s Valentine, Caps Fourth Stakes Win On Gold Rush Card
Although she was heavily favored, it appeared Alice Marble was in the deep end of the pool a quarter mile from home in the $100,000 Fran’s Valentine Stakes, but with leading rider Juan Hernandez at the controls, it indeed seems anything is possible these days at Santa Anita. Alice Marble fairly exploded the last eighth of a mile to win going away by three quarters of a length, providing Hernandez with his fourth stakes win of the day and his fifth win overall.
Owned and bred by Nick Alexander and trained by Phil D’Amato, Alice Marble got a flat mile on turf in 1:37.67.
Under a snug hold at the rail while third, about 2 ½ lengths off longshot leader Flying to the Line leaving the half mile pole, Alice Marble was shuffled back to fifth around the far turn and had six lengths to make up turning for home, but Hernandez was unflappable, splitting horses while three deep and with an eye-catching turn of foot “Alice” made it look easy late providing Alexander with his second homebred stakes victory on the day.
“That was as close to a heart attack as I have come,” said D’Amato, who leads all trainers through 65 racing days with 14 stakes wins and 48 wins overall. “I was hoping we’d just get second when we fell back. Juan got the job done and I’m just thrilled that he got his fifth of the day for me.”
A winner of the restricted Wishing Well Stakes at 6 ½ furlongs down the hillside turf course two starts back and a close second down the hill in the Grade 2 Monrovia Stakes April 9, Alice Marble, who was trying two turns for the first time today, was off as the 1-2 favorite in a field of seven fillies and mares three and up and paid $3.
“She broke a little slow…and then after that I was behind the speed,” said Hernandez, who rode Alice Marble for the first time. “There were some guys that were going to the front, so I decided to stay behind them. I was telling Phil (that) on the backside that I had an opportunity to come through and get some position, but I didn’t want to move too soon.
“I decided to stay (at the rail) and wait. I had a rough trip, but I just had to wait a little more. I found the space and I asked here and she exploded, she was really good. It means a lot to me because I want to do good here.”
Alice Marble, a lightly raced 5-year-old mare, provided her sire, Grazen with his second win on the day as she collected her second career stakes victory. Out of the More Than Ready mare Unsung Heroine, Alice Marble is now 11-5-2-1 and with the winner’s check of $60,000, she increased her earnings to $321,180.
Sassyserb kicked nicely late from off the pace to finish second, a half length better than Flying to the Line.