The $400,000 Yellow Ribbon Stakes Sunday belonged to the foreigners as the fillies and mares who knew Santa Anita's turf course the best ran the slowest.
Carotene, a Canadian horse, beat everyone to the finish line and two horses from France--Nashmeel and Khariyda--finished second and third before 44,982 fans.
The best a local horse could do was Ivor's Image's fourth-place finish.
Short Sleeves, whose running in the race was an owner's afterthought, went off a tepid 3-1 favorite and finished last in the 12-horse field.
Carotene, feeling Jose Santos' whip 12 times through the stretch, finished a half-length ahead of Nashmeel, who bounced off the fence nearing the far turn and then almost came back and won after the winner passed her about 20 yards from the wire. It was another 1 1/2 lengths back to Khariyda, who had 2 3/4 lengths on Ivor's Image.
Although Carotene was third in the Yellow Ribbon last year--the 4-year-old filly is the fourth horse to go from third to first in the 10-year history of the stake--she paid $47.60, $23.80 and $12.80, becoming the longest-priced horse to win the race.
There was also little support for Nashmeel, running farther than 1 1/8 miles for the first time, and at 14-1 she paid $15.80 and $8.20. Khariyda, whose first North American start was a win in the E.P. Taylor at Toronto's Woodbine a month ago, went off a close second choice to Short Sleeves and paid $5 to show.
Carotene finished eighth in the Taylor, a result her trainer, Roger Attfield, attributed to a slow pace and poor judgment by her jockey, Don Seymour. Santos rode Carotene for the first time Sunday.
Attfield laughed when he saw Carotene go off at 22-1. In last year's Yellow Ribbon, she finished less than a length behind the winner, Bonne Ile, after negotiating the far turn by way of the arboretum across the street from the track.
"She should have won last year," said Attfield, who had Carotene treated with an anti-bleeding medication Sunday for the first time in her career. The Great Nephew-Carrot Top II filly bled slightly from a nostril after a workout at Hollywood Park on Thursday. Horses aren't allowed to run with bleeder medication in Canada.
With Khariyda on the lead and Short Sleeves second, Carotene was last, but only seven lengths back, with a half-mile to run. Santos was waiting for an opening that wasn't there, then decided to swing Carotene to the outside.
"There were so many horses in front of me," Santos said. "I said to myself, 'No way, Jose.' I had plenty of horse left to make the big circle.
"But after we made the lead, I was worried, because I saw the other filly (Nashmeel) coming again."
Although the course was listed as firm, there was considerable give to it. Carotene, earning $240,000 for her Canadian breeders and owners, Bud and David Willmot, ran 1 miles in 2:03 4/5, the slowest time ever for the Yellow Ribbon.
Yves Saint-Martin, riding Khariyda, said that his filly was struck in the head by the whip of Pat Eddery as he rode Nashmeel through the stretch. A foul claim by Saint-Martin was not allowed by the stewards.
A chain reaction from horses on the outside crowded Nashmeel into the fence late in the run down the backstretch.
"I didn't have any place to go," Eddery said. "I had to keep my position or drop back to last. This is an honest filly who just pushed her way through. She ran a hell of a race."
On instructions from one of his owners, Noel Bloom, trainer Darrell Vienna replaced Gary Stevens with Eddie Delahoussaye on Short Sleeves. Delahoussaye won the Ramona Handicap at Del Mar with Short Sleeves, then Stevens won two straight stakes with her and was victimized by a slipping saddle in the Las Palmas Handicap three weeks ago.
"The saddle didn't move, but she didn't either," Delahoussaye said after the Yellow Ribbon. "She might have been close, but I could feel that she wasn't handling the going that well. She's danced quite a few dances, and she's not a very big filly."
As it turned out, Stevens wouldn't have been able to ride Short Sleeves, anyhow, because he suffered a broken ankle in a gate accident Saturday. At a meeting with the stewards Friday, Bloom agreed to pay Stevens whatever fee Delahoussaye earned Sunday.
That turned out to be 10% of nothing. Delahoussaye got $100 just for riding in the race.
Horse Racing Notes