After finishing off-the-board in the Grade III Monrovia Handicap on New Year’s Day, New Zealand-bred Royal Taat resumed her winning ways by closing strongly to run off with the $57,800 Sierra Madre for fillies and mares at 6 ½ furlongs over Santa Anita’s downhill turf course.
As a result, Royal Taat gained her third victory in four United States starts following a fourth-place finish in her stateside debut last August at Del Mar. It was her second win over Santa Anita’s downhill course under Bejarano while employing come-from-behind tactics both times.
The Sierra Madre winner paid $5.20, $2.60 and $2.40. Moonshine Alice, ridden by Chantal Sutherland, returned $2.60 and $2.10 while Eletro Nuclear, with Jose Valdivia Jr. aboard, paid $3 to show.
Lingering in the rear of a field of seven, Royal Taat benefited from rapid fractions coming down the hill. With Moonshine Alice taking over from early leader Lettre Spirituelle, the front-runners cut out early splits of 21.12, 43.06 and 1:06.33.
Nonetheless, Moonshine Alice, owned by a partnership that includes Los Angeles Dodgers manager Joe Torre, was able to maintain her record of consistency with three seconds and as many wins in six trips to the post.
Victorious Royal Taat, trained by John Sadler, bettered her overall record to 4-1-1 in 12 starts. The winner’s share of the purse, $34,200, elevated her career earnings to $114,783.
Mike Mitchell, Santa Anita’s defending training champion, connected with the only three horses he saddled Wednesday in the first two races and the fourth to gain a one-win lead over Jeff Mullins in the trainers’ standings.
First post for Thursday’s eight-race program is at 1 p.m. The Pick Six sequence begins with the third race.