Sunday, October 19, 2008
MI CHIAMONO MIMI STUNS ALPHA KITTEN IN ANOAKIA
ARCADIA, Calif. (Oct. 19, 2008) – Sunday’s 32nd running of Oak Tree’s $82,800 Anoakia Stakes was supposed to be a coronation of sorts for Alpha Kitten, the 7-10 favorite nicknamed “My Baby Zenyatta” by her jockey, but another impressive maiden winner, Mi Chiamano Mia, literally stole her thunder in the six-furlong event for 2-year-old fillies.
Garrett Gomez immediately sent the chestnut daughter of Came Home to the front in the field of nine, methodically widened the margin, and, by the time Alpha Kitten took full flight after racing in mid-pack, she could narrow the difference to only 1 1/4 lengths at the wire with Chiamano Mia being geared down by Gomez.
The other seven fillies were left in their wake with Toro Bonito, ridden by Rafael Bejarano, finishing 4 3/4 lengths behind Alpha Kitten and jockey Tyler Baze.
As the third choice in the wagering, Mi Chiamano Mimi paid $15.60, $5.20 and $4. The return by Alpha Kitten was $3 and $2.20 with Toro Bonito paying $2.80 to show.
The upset of the odds-on favorite assured a Pick Six carryover of $99,305 into Wednesday’s Oak Tree program after Sunday’s sequence had begun with a $100 winner, For the House, in the fourth race.
Mi Chiamano Mimi and Alpha Kitten had started their careers somewhat similarly at Del Mar with the former winning an $80,000 maiden claimer by 4 1/2 lengths under Gomez while covering six furlongs in 1:10 2/5.
But it was the manner in which Alpha Kitten won her debut that generated greater excitement. According to Baze, she broke in the air and twice got knocked sideways. “I was just going to give her a race,” he said. “Then I smooched to her, threw the reins at her once, and she blew their doors off.” After breaking tenth, Alpha Kitten won by 1 3/4 lengths while running 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:03 4/5.
According to Gomez, theft tactics were not the plan on Sunday. “The plan really wasn’t to go to the lead,” he said, “but she left there running today. She’s got a lot of talent and she’s still learning.
“We were head-and-head early and she was trying to get out with me, but I got her straightened out leaving the half-mile pole. From the three-eighths home, she was real steady. She’s winning on raw talent. I think with seasoning she will get better and I think she will stretch out.”
“She’s just been a wonderful filly since I bought her in Florida,” said winning trainer Mike Mitchell. He purchased her privately in April of this year for $25,000 on behalf of owner Nathaniel J. Friedman, of Beverly Hills. The pair turned down substantially larger offers following Mi Chiamano Mimi’s maiden score.
“I didn’t give Garrett and instructions before this race,” Mitchell said, “but I thought if he wanted to use her, he had the kind of horse who could do it. I left it up to him, but I knew she’d have enough speed to do that. I think she’ll go two turns. I really do. I think the more we run her, the more she’ll learn.”
With the Anoakia victory, Mi Chiamano Mimi earned $49,680, which, on top of her debut victory, raised her total earnings to $72,880. Owner Friedman said he named the filly from the opening line of the opera, “La Boheme” by Puccini. Translated from Italian, it is: “They call me Mimi.”
Wednesday’s eight-race card at Santa Anita will begin at 1 p.m. with the Pick Six series starting with the third race.
GARRETT GOMEZ, MI CHIAMANO MIMI, WINNER: “The plan really wasn’t to go the lead, but she left there running today. This was only her second start and we had the one-hole and we had to sit in there a long time. She’s got a lot of talent and she’s still learning. We were head-and-head early and she was trying to get out with me, but I got her straightened out leaving the half-mile pole and from the three-eighths home, she was real steady. She’s winning now on raw talent. I think with seasoning, she’ll get better and I think stretch out.”
MIKE MITCHELL, MI CHIAMANO MIMI, WINNER: “She’s just been a wonderful filly since I bought her in Florida. I didn’t give Garrett (Gomez) any instructions, but I thought if he wanted to use her, he had the kind of horse who could do it. I left it up to him, but I knew she’d have enough speed to do that. I think she’ll go two turns, I really do. I think the more we run her, the more she’ll learn.”
NOTES: Winning owner Nathaniel Friedman is from Beverly Hills. He said he named the filly from the opening line of the opera, La Boheme by Puccini, “They call me Mimi.”
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