Zero Tolerance and jockey Flavien Prat, right, hold off Tapwater to win the Las Cienegas
Zero Tolerance stalked favored Hear My Prayer to the top of the lane en route to a hard fought head victory over late-closing Tapwater in Sunday’s Grade 3, $100,000 Las Cienegas Stakes at Santa Anita in Arcadia, Calif., thus providing trainer Ruben Alvarado with his first career stakes win. Ridden by Flavien Prat, Zero Tolerance, a 4-year-old grey daughter of Mizzen Mast, got about 6 ½ furlongs down the hillside turf course in 1:13.26.
Drawn on the far outside, Zero Tolerance fell into a perfect trip as speedy Hear My Prayer went to the lead, maintaining a one-length advantage past the half mile pole, but the winner gained the advantage at the dirt crossing at the top of the stretch and was all out to hold off the runner-up.
“Unbelievable, I don’t have the words to say,” said Alvarado, a longtime assistant to Peter Miller, who has taken a hiatus from training, handing over his stable to Alvarado. “I remember I had this moment when Roy H won the Breeders’ Cup (Sprint, in 2017 and 2018). That was a moment I would never forget…
“That’s her (Zero Tolerance), I knew she could run. She’s a horse that can come off the pace or be on the lead. … She loves six and a half, so I knew she was going to run huge for me. She was a little fresh, so that was what we expected from her.”
A winner of a five-furlong turf allowance at Del Mar on Nov. 20, Zero Tolerance was off as the second choice at 2-1 in a field of seven older fillies and mares and paid $6.00, $3.80 and $2.60.
Owned by Custom Truck Accessories, Jason Hall, Joe Kelly and Michael Riordan, Zero Tolerance, who is out of the El Prado mare Torreadora was a winner of Santa Anita’s ungraded Unzip Me Stakes two starts back on Oct. 3 and she is now a two-time stakes winner with four wins from six overall starts. With the winner’s share of $60,000, she increased her earnings to $215,000.
“She was traveling super relaxed and it does help to have a target, I think it helped her to relax,” said Prat, who although he didn’t ride her in her most recent start, has now won three of his four engagements with her. “She can be a little on her toes sometimes, but she was relaxing well today and when it was time to make a move, she responded well.”
Ridden by Joe Bravo, Tapwater was unhurried from her rail post position, running next to last after the first quarter mile. In her first try down the hillside, the 6-year-old mare, who was shortening up out of a series of two turn races, rallied impressively while trying to drift in and just missed. Off at 10-1 Tapwater paid $10.00 and $5.00 while finishing 1 ½ lengths better than a tiring Hear My Prayer.
The 8-5 favorite with Juan Hernandez, Hear My Prayer paid $2.40 to show.
With the win, Prat notched his third on the day and he went to get his fourth victory of the afternoon in the next race, making 21 for the meet, four better than runner-up John Velazquez. The Las Cienegas also marked Prat’s meet-leading sixth stakes win as well.
Fractions on the race were 21.99, 44.16 and 1:06.92.
Racing resumes with a special four-day holiday week on Friday, with first post time for an eight-race card at 12:30 p.m.
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