With longtime companion Rafael Bejarano in the saddle, Unzip Me gained control entering the stretch and safely rebuffed the runner-up’s last charge while running the 6 ½-furlong distance of Santa Anita’s hillside turf course in a swift 1:11.94.
But Unzip Me didn’t need all her speed to reach the Wishing Well’s winner’s circle on Sunday after settling into fourth early in the field of eight fillies and mares. In the end, her class prevailed at odds of 7-10 under high weight of 123 pounds.
Teroda, the 3-1 second choice with Joel Rosario aboard, made a solid late run for the place, finishing a neck length ahead of Remit and jockey Corey Nakatani, who edged Givine for the show by a similar margin.
The victory was the seventh in 11 starts over the unique downhill strip for Unzip Me. It was the 18th time in her last 19 races that the homebred daughter of City Zip owned by Harris Farms, Donald Valpredo, Per Antonsen and partners had finished in the money. The exception was a fourth-place finish, one length behind the winner.
“She’s just all heart, she’s a special horse,” remarked Jones, whose father, Gary, had trained the race’s namesake,Wishing Well, who went on to become the dam of the great classic winner, Sunday Silence.
“I think the race was a little quicker than it looked on paper,” Jones said. “I think Raf (Bejarano) did a good job in trying to get her to settle off those horses a little bit. It’s nice to see her get back on track.”
“I could have been on the lead,” Bejarano said. “I didn’t try to use too much horse this time. I knew the three (Catchy Tune) was going to put on pressure. My filly broke really sharp from the gate and I saw the three rush a little bit. So I decided to take her back and wait a little bit. She showed me a big kick in the stretch.”
“I had a perfect trip,” said Rosario after dismounting from Teroda. “That’s a tough horse (Unzip Me) to beat.”
Unzip Me drew closer to millionaire status with the victory. The winning purse of $57,000 boosted her career earnings to $959,228 from an overall record of 14-4-4 in 25 starts
She returned mutuels of $3.40, $2.40 and $2.20 to her legion of supporters. Teroda paid $3.40 and $2.80. Remit paid $4.20 to show.
Jones said there were no specific plans for Unzip Me’s next start. “We’ll play it by ear,” he said. “Obviously, she likes running down the hill, so if there are spots like that, it’s tough to pass them up if you know she likes it.”
Santa Anita will be dark Monday through Wednesday before live racing resumes with an eight-race program on Thursday. First post is at 1 p.m.