Tara’s Tango triumphs in Santa Margarita

Profile Picture: Jen Caldwell

Jen Caldwell

March 20th, 2016

Stonestreet Stables LLC’s homebred Tara’s Tango proved best on Saturday in the $500,000 Santa Margarita (G1) at Santa Anita Park.

The four-year-old lass took up a stalking spot early as Penwith set a pressured pace through splits of :23.69 and :48.65. Taris was latched onto Penwith’s outside, while Living the Life, Tara’s Tango and Moyo Honey bided their time racing along behind.

Taris moved up to run in tandem with Penwith rounding the turn and the trio behind did the same through six furlongs in 1:13.32. Taris finally managed to grab the lead, but Tara’s Tango wasn’t done yet. The Unbridled’s Song filly continued motoring and just got the best of her rival by a length while stopping the clock for nine furlongs on the fast dirt in 1:50.44.

Sent off the 5-2 second choice, Tara’s Tango paid $7.20 with jockey Rafael Bejarano aboard. Taris was the 4-5 favorite and had 1 1/4 lengths to spare on Living the Life in third. It was another 2 1/4 lengths back to Moyo Honey, who in turn finished 11 1/4 lengths in front of Penwith in last.

Tara’s Tango gave notice in her 2014 debut at Del Mar, scoring by 3 1/2 lengths in that maiden special weight while setting a new track record of :57.40 for five furlongs. She returned with a case of seconditis as a sophomore last year, filling the runner-up spot in the Santa Paula S., Angel’s Flight S. and Summertime Oaks (G2), before returning to the winner’s circle back at Del Mar against allowance/optional claiming rivals.

Tara’s Tango suffered her first, and to date only, off-the-board runs when 10th in the Cotillion (G1) and fourth in the Kalookan Queen S. to close out 2015. The Jerry Hollendorfer trainee kicked off her four-year-old campaign with a neck third in the Santa Monica (G2) on January 23 and finally earned her first stakes victory in the Santa Maria (G2) last out on February 13.

Saturday’s win improved Tara’s Tango’s record to read 10-4-3-1 and she’s doubled her bankroll to $618,004. The Kentucky-bred gray miss is out of the stakes-placed French Deputy mare Scarlet Tango, making her a half-sister to Grade 1 victor Visionaire and Grade 3 heroine Scarlet Strike.

Tara’s Tango photo courtesy of Benoit Photos


Rafael Bejarano, jockey Tara’s Tango, winner: “The blinkers made a big difference today, they helped me a lot from the gate. I was able to put my horse into position right away. I waited for the opportunity and when we got to the stretch, she gave me a big turn of foot and I knew I could beat the favorite.”

Gary Stevens, jockey Taris, second: “I was really happy with the race. She settled nicely for me and I was surprised when Tara’s Tango ran by me. When I turned into the stretch, she switched over to her right lead and she kicked. As you could see I was giving her a nice hand ride and when I saw that grey head come up I said, ‘Really?!’

“It’s funny because it felt like 1:48 and change; it didn’t feel like 1:50.00. I thought it was nice. She had such a good kick and she did kick, I just got outrun on the day, period.”

Jerry Hollendorfer, trainer Tara’s Tango, winner: On her wearing blinkers for the first time: “When (Martin Garcia) won on her last time (in the February 13 Santa Maria [G2]), he said she was running in spots and suggested the blinkers. They’re just small ones, but they helped.

“It was an exciting race and I’m very proud to get the Grade 1 for the owner (Stonestreet Stables). She got a good trip and showed a lot of heart running down the favorite.”

Noted that Rafael Bejarano picked up the mount since Garcia committed to ride Cupid for Bob Baffert in Rebel (G2) at Oaklawn Park, which he won, Hollendorfer said: “I’m glad for both of them. It worked out well, a win/win situation.”

Barbara Banke, owner/breeder Tara’s Tango, winner: “We’ve always known she had a lot of ability, from when she won her first start at Del Mar (in July 2014). Today, we knew she could get the distance and she just keeps trying and she never stops. This is very special; I’ve got my son, Christopher, and my nephew, Nick, here, and it’s been great.”