STREAMLINE PULLS UPSET IN AZERI
FAVORITE MOR SPIRIT WINS ESSEX HANDICAP
HOT SPRINGS, AR (Saturday, March 18, 2017) – The third time was the charm for Streamline as she finally turned the tables on rival and favored Terra Promessa in the 31st running of $350,000 Azeri Stakes (G2) while defeating five other rivals at Oaklawn Park on Saturday.
Sent off at 13-1 by the enthusiastic Rebel Stakes Day crowd of more than 36,000, the 5-year-old Streamline sat off the pace set by She Maybee Wild up the backstretch while steadily advancing and then took over as the field of older fillies and mares turned for home. Trained by Brian Williamson and ridden confidently by Chris Landeros, she increased her position with an eighth of a mile to go and then kicked clear to cross the wire in 1:43:67 for the 1 1/6th mile on a fast track.
StarLadies Eskenformoney, who is conditioned by Todd Pletcher and had Javier Castellano in the irons, tried to catch the winner in the lane but the 7-2 second choice in the wagering was forced to settle for second by one length. The Brad Cox-trained Tiger Moth, dispatched at 31-1, was another half-length behind.
Stonestreet Stables’ homebred, multiple graded stakes winner Terra Promessa entered the Azeri undefeated in five prior tries at the track, as the winner of the Pippin Stakes and Bayakoa Stakes (G3) in both of her 2017 efforts, and she had never before been beaten at the distance. But the Steve Asmussen conditioned 4-year-old daughter of Curlin, who was dispatched at 1-5, encountered a troubled trip under Irad Ortiz, Jr. and could do fare no better than fifth.
“She just didn’t show up,” said a disappointed Ortiz
Streamline, who was third behind Terra Promessa in both the Pippin and the Bayakoa earlier in the season, is now a two-time stakes Oaklawn stakes winner after capturing the 2016 Pippin. The daughter of Straight Line was bred in Illinois by Nancy Vanier and is owned by Vanier and Cartwright Thoroughbreds and has now won seven of 17 lifetime starts and finished in the money in 16 of those 17 efforts.
“Break good and don’t let the favorite get loose on the lead,” was what Williamson instructed his rider. “She broke great. It looked like the favorite didn’t break as good and was kind of boxed in. I thought Chris rode her great.”
“I had a great trip,” said Landeros,” The outside post was kind of in our favor today. I through Irad was going to go a little bit with his horse. Terra Promessa had the inside and we took advantage of it. My horse runs hard every time. She deserves a chance every single race. She’s little, but she’s so game. She’s very, very game.”
The always consistent Streamline increased her bankroll to $601,566, and Williamson said that if all goes well from here, the Apple Blossom (G1) here on April 14 is her next target.
The complete order of finish behind Streamline, Eskenformeoney and Tiger Moth was Power of Snunner, Terra Promessa, Miss Mo Kelly and She Maybee Wild.
Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert sent Mor Spirit from his Southern California base in search of a little class relief, and the 4-year-old colt found it in the 69th edition of the Essex Handicap at Oaklawn, when the prohibitive 1-2 favorite bested a tough field of seven others aged four and up.
Mor Spirit, who was making his third start of the year after competing in the Malibu Stakes (G1) and the San Antonio Handicap (G2) at Santa Anita, covered the 1 1/16 mile on a fast track in 1:41.62 under Hall of Fame rider Mike Smith to prevail by 2 1/2 length on the fast Oaklawn strip. The final time for Michael Lund Peterson’s son of Eskendereya was the fastest the Essex has been run in 30 years.
Nonetheless it wasn’t easy for Mor Spirit, who was challenged into the far turn and didn’t get his head in front until the field turned for home. He dug down deep under steady urging while Domain’s Rap, a 9-year-old gelding who was making the 63rd start of his career and was ridden by Shaun Bridgmohan, closed strongly down the stretch to just nose out the Todd Pletcher-trained Madefromlucky and jockey Javier Castellano.
“He ran great, ain’t no doubt about it. He’s 9 years old. We think the world of him. He’s a good horse,” said Federico Villafranco, the trainer of Domain’s Rap.
The Pennsylvania-bred Mor Spirit improved to 4-5-0 from 10 starts and increased his earnings to $886,400.
Following Mor Spirit, Domain’s Rap and Madefromlucky to the wire were Dazzling Gem, Secret Passage, Shotgun Kowboy and Dalmore.
$350,000 Azeri Stakes Quotes (G2)
Winning trainer Brian Williamson, Streamline – “‘Break good and don’t let the favorite get loose on the lead’ were my instructions. She broke great. Looked like the favorite didn’t break as good and was kind of boxed in. I thought Chris rode her great. If she comes back good and checks out good, we’re definitely running in the Apple Blossom.”
Winning jockey Chris Landeros, rider of victorious Streamline – “I had a great trip. The outside post was kind of in our favor today. I thought Irad was going to go a little bit with his horse. Terra Promessa had the inside and we took advantage of it. She runs hard every time. She deserves a chance every single race. She’s little but she’s so game. Very, very game mare.
“I just knew she’d give me 110 percent every time. She’s so honest every race.
Second-place jockey Javier Castellano, Eskenformoney – “Had a good trip, but that’s where I expected to be. I didn’t want to be too far out of it today. With that kind of horse you have to be involved in the race, and she did. She gave me good run and the speed carried all the way. I thought the horse was going to come back to me a little bit. I give credit to the winner. I believed I am 2nd best today, because the winner never came back to me. Every time I asked my horse she responded very well, we were just 2nd best today. I am very proud for the filly and the way she ran.”
Third-place trainer Brad Cox, Tiger Moth – “It was good. I was very happy with it. Jose (Ortiz) did a good job letting her settle into the race. Finished up well. We’ll see what happens out of this, maybe go the Apple Blossom.”
Third-place jockey Jose Ortiz, Tiger Moth – “She ran very well. Setup nice for me and going into the first turn she relaxed well. She made a run turning for home and she was coming on late. She was rallying on late in the race and it was a good race for her.”
Jockey Irad Ortiz, rider of beaten favorite Terra Promessa: “She just didn’t show up.”