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SANTA ANITA

Silent Sighs Speaks Volumes With Win

March 14, 2004|Bob Mieszerski | Times Staff Writer

Staying home was the right move for Silent Sighs.

After considering sending the California-bred daughter of Benchmark to Louisiana for last weekend's Fair Grounds Oaks, her connections opted to remain local for the $300,000 Santa Anita Oaks.

When the Grade I was over Saturday, 6-1 shot Silent Sighs had her biggest win yet, knocking off a pair of previously undefeated 3-year-old fillies, including 2003 2-year-old Eclipse and Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies champion Halfbridled.

Ridden with confidence by jockey David Flores, Silent Sighs, who is owned and was bred by Pam and Marty Wygod, tracked the pace set by longshot Salty Romance, took the lead approaching the stretch and went on to beat Halfbridled, the 1-2 favorite, by 1 1/2 lengths. In giving trainer Julio Canani his first Oaks win, she completed the 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.84.

This was the fourth victory in five starts for Silent Sighs, a filly Canani was singing the praises of before she broke her maiden by six lengths in her career debut Oct. 13.

"From the beginning, she's been real special to me," said Canani, who won a race earlier on the card with French import Fabulous Groom. "She's been training super. I was interviewed the other day and I told them I was going to a gunfight with a pocketknife, but my pocketknife was very sharp."

In winning for the first time beyond seven furlongs, the dark bay earned herself a trip to Churchill Downs for the $500,000 Kentucky Oaks on April 30.

Halfbridled, making her first start since she capped a four-for-four campaign with a 2 1/2-length win in the Breeders' Cup on Oct. 25, wasn't particularly comfortable along the inside under new rider Gary Stevens but didn't have any real excuses. She finished 1 1/2 lengths in front of A.P. Adventure, the 3-1 second choice who lost for the first time in her fourth start.

"She ran well," said Richard Mandella, the trainer of the runner-up. "It would have been nice to win, but she ran well. I don't have any excuses." He added that the $500,000 Ashland on April 3 at Keeneland "would be the most likely choice for her next race."

The win by Silent Sighs ended a five-race win streak for favorites in the Oaks. The last favorite to fail in the race was Star Of Broadway, who was sixth at 7-5 in 1998.

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Lennyfromalibu ($3) gamely held off 3-1 second choice Spinelessjellyfish and five others to win the $109,000 Crystal Water Handicap at Santa Anita.

Owned and bred by Madeline Auerbach, the 5-year-old Unusual Heat gelding won for the fourth time in his last five starts, completing the mile on turf in 1:34.91. Alex Solis rode the winner for trainer Barry Abrams.

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Kilgowan, a 26-1 shot, rallied to beat Capitano and favored Seattle Borders by half a length in the $200,000 El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate Fields.

A son of Smoke Glacken who isn't Triple Crown eligible, Kilgowan won for the third time in five starts, completing the 1 1/16 miles under jockey Chance Rollins in 1:43.87. He's trained by Lonnie Arterburn for owner-breeder Ann Marie Farm.

Capitano and Seattle Borders finished in a dead heat for second.

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Iron Halo ($20.40) won the $100,000 Phoenix Gold Cup by 2 1/4 lengths over 6-1 shot and stablemate R. Baggio at Turf Paradise. Both the winner and the runner-up are trained by Eric Kruljac.

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