Exhibit takes the Monrovia Prize
The British-bred filly already boasted a pair of graded scores from last year, but finished off-the-board in her last two efforts against Grade 1 company. Dropping in class for Saturday’s contest, the James Cassidy trainee just held in a mad dash to the finish line.
Gonzalez positioned Prize Exhibit between horses in fourth early on as Heavens Stairway set the opening half-mile in :21.33 and :43.52. The duo switched to the inside crossing the dirt and grabbed control of the race entering the lane.
Prize Exhibit pulled away to a one-length lead, but the rest of the field was catching up quick. Shrinking Violet, winner of the 2015 Monrovia, put in the best move after saving ground throughout, rallying from midpack to just miss defending her title by a nose on the wire.
It was another half-length back to 6-5 favorite Ageless, who found herself three wide on the downhill run and five wide in the stretch to be a half-length farther back in third on the line.
Prize Exhibit was sent off the near 8-1 third choice and returned $17.80 for finishing about 6 1/2 furlongs on the firm downhill turf in 1:12.96. She was cutting back for the Monrovia, having not gone less than a mile in her prior 11 starts stateside.
The four-year-old daughter of Showcasing just stretched out when coming to the United States, having spent all her races overseas sprinting. Her best stakes finish across the Big Pond came as a third in the Oh So Sharp S. (Eng-G3) as a juvenile, but once arriving stateside Prize Exhibit proceeded to capture the San Clemente H. (G2) and Senorita S. (G3) as well as placing in the Del Mar Oaks (G1) and Yellow Ribbon H. (G2).
Prize Exhibit is out of the listed-placed Inchinor mare Roodeye, who is a half-sister to Group 1-placed Gallagher.
Sunday’s Monrovia score boosted Prize Exhibit’s career record to 20-6-2-2 and she’s now banked $530,804 in lifetime earnings.
Cassidy indicated the $200,000 Buena Vista S. (G2) going a mile on Santa Anita’s green February 20 would be next for the filly.
Prize Exhibit photo courtesy of Cecilia Gustavsson/Horsephotos.com
Santiago Gonzalez, jockey Prize Exhibit, winner: “She’s a superior horse. She runs in better races than these other horses regularly and she showed her class today.
“She has a lot of speed. I can wait and wait with her and I know she can still get there with her speed.”
Kent Desormeaux, jockey Shrinking Violet, second: “She’s not fond of soft ground. I think she ran her eyeballs out but she got beat a nose in a situation she doesn’t care to be in. Not to mention, she’s been off a while so I don’t think it would have mattered as much if she was racing with one under her belt.
“Her future is very bright. She’s coming back from a laceration on her hind end as well and that always causes concern. You can wonder if she’ll be the same. Well, she’s the same.”
Julien Leparoux, jockey Ageless, third: “No real excuses. The course is the same for everybody. She had a little layoff, but she ran her race. It looks like she came back good and hopefully, she’ll be good for the rest of the year.”
James Cassidy, trainer Prize Exhibit, winner: “I didn’t think she’d have any problem (coming down the hill for the first time) unless she started idling trying to figure out what the heck this is all about, which she has a tendency to do.
“But being that he (Santiago Gonzalez) had her surrounded, she didn’t have any time to think about that, so that was a good thing. I was a little upset we were that close, but when it opened for her, he rode her perfect, and she’s a hard horse to ride. You could see down the lane she was out there in the clear and kind of looking around, so she can be difficult, but she got it done.
“Gonzalez is really a good rider. If he keeps finding his skills, he’ll be one of the best riders here, if he isn’t close to that already.”
Arnaud Delacour, trainer Ageless, third: “I thought everything went pretty good. She had a good trip and she was finishing, so we’re pretty happy with the race she ran.”