Finest City saves her finest moment for BC Filly & Mare Sprint
Finest City had run some strong races over seven furlongs at Santa Anita before, but had never won over its main track in five attempts heading into Saturday's $921,725 Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1). She picked a good time to end that futility when she gamely fended off the race's defending titlist, Wavell Avenue, to register a mild upset score in the division's most lucrative test.
Backed down from a morning line of 12-1 to 8-1, Finest City stalked three wide down the backside under Mike Smith, dueling with Gloryzapper and Paulassilverlining through splits of :21.98 and :44.82. Edging past that pair at the top of the stretch, Finest City dug in and repelled a late rally from Wavell Avenue to win by three parts of a length in a time of 1:22.37 on a fast track.
Owned by Seltzer Thoroughbreds and trained by Ian Kruljac, Finest City returned $19.40. Paulassilverlining held third, 1 1/4 lengths behind Wavell Avenue, while 3-1 favorite Carina Mia finished ninth in the field of 12.
Winner of the Great Lady M (G2) at Los Alamitos in April, Finest City narrowly missed winning the Santa Monica over this track and distance in January, losing by a head to Lost Bus. Later fourth in the Las Flores (G3), she rebounded to take the Great Lady M by 1 1/4 lengths, and then stretched out around two turns for her next three starts.
A credible third behind Beholder and Stellar Wind in the Vanity (G1), she next moved to the turf, finishing fourth in the Yellow Ribbon H. (G2) at Del Mar and second by a head to Avenge, Saturday's Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1) third, in the John C. Mabee (G2), also at Del Mar.
"The old handicapping angle of 'turf to dirt' and a long turf race to a middle distance sprint is really a good way to get a horse ready for a race like this," Smith said. "They learn to relax a little better and it's easier on them."
Bred in Pennsylvania by HnR Nothhaft Horseracing LLC, Finest City is by City Zip and out of the Lemon Drop Kid mare Be Envied, a multiple stakes-placed half-sister to Grade 1 winner Burning Roma.