The move resulted in the defection of four of the 13 entrants, most notably multiple graded stakes winner Elusive Diva. Also among the defectors was last year’s Monrovia winner Resplendency, who, curiously, had never raced on turf, winning last year’s edition when it similarly was moved to a sloppy main track.
The changes caused the race to be downgraded from Grade 3 pending review by the American Graded Stakes Committee. Last year’s Monrovia lost its Grade 3 status because of a similar change.
None of this bothered Awesome Lady as the Gary Stute-trained four-year-old daughter of Bianconi tracked the early pace set by 1.40-to-1 favorite Guidebook to the top of the stretch then moved powerfully into the lead along the rail turning for home.
Ridden confidently by Tyler Baze, Awesome Lady opened up a commanding lead, coasting home as she covered the distance in 1:16.77.
Beneficial Bartok, who broke slowly and trailed the field on the backstretch, closed resolutely along the rail to get up for second, 2 ¾ lengths clear of Allswellthatnswell.
"She’s a hard-trying filly," winning jockey Tyler Baze said. "I’ve ridden her on dirt and grass and she always seems to try hard. The more I took hold of her, the more she kept running. I never hit her and she ran a good race. I’ve had good luck with this filly in the past and she’s coming back around."
Bred in Kentucky by R. Alex Rankin and James Ernst, Awesome Lady won for the seventh time in 28 career starts over three seasons. Stute claimed her for $40,000 at Del Mar in August 2004.
"I was glad when [trainer Bob] Baffert scratched this morning (Resplendency), that’s all I know," Stute said. "But I’ve been dying to run her on this kind of track. I knew she’d love it. I finally got my wish."
Awesome Lady is out of the Conquistador Cielo mare Risen Witch.
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