SPIRIT SEEKER GAINS THIRD STRAIGHT VICTORY IN LAKE TAHOE PURSE

ARCADIA, Calif. (Oct. 27, 2011) – Spirit Seeker continued her ascent up the class ladder Thursday by decisively scoring her third consecutive victory in Santa Anita’s feature race, the $51,416 Lake Tahoe Purse for fillies and mares at one mile.

With Rafael Bejarano in the saddle for trainer and co-owner Jerry Hollendorfer, the 5-year-old mare gained a stalking position around the Club House turn, overtook pace-setter Sambora nearing the far turn, and crossed the wire 2 ¼ lengths ahead of Ambitoness in a final clocking of 1:36.50.

Garrett Gomez, whose mount, Chokecherymary, was edged by a head for the place, claimed foul against the winner for interference soon after the start, but his claim was disallowed by the stewards.

Bejarano acknowledged that Spirit Seeker was “going in a little bit” after the start. “But I tried to grab her, and she straightened away,” he added. The incident, however, took Spirit Seeker out of her customary front-running style. “It didn’t matter,” said Bejarano. “She’s run from behind before and did good.”

As the 6-5 favorite, Spirit Seeker paid $4.40, $3.20 and $2.40. Ambitoness, ridden by Joe Talamo, paid $4.20 and $2.40 while Chokecherymary returned $3.40 to show.

The winner, who had competed in graded stakes last year, has been subject to extended gaps between her races this year for Hollendorfer and partner River Ridge Ranch.

After being well-beaten in an allowance event at Golden Gate in February, she returned in July to handily win a $16,000 claimer at Pleasanton. Spirit Seeker did not race again until Oct. 13 when she easily won a $20,000 claimer at Santa Anita.

Her connections wasted little time in bringing her back on Thursday while confidently raising her claiming tag to $40,000 under the optional conditions. She went unclaimed.

Spirit Seeker’s winning purse of $28,800 increased her career earnings to $163,469 from a 9-6-1 record in 27 lifetime starts.

Racing continues on Friday at Santa Anita with an eight-race card that begins at 1 p.m.

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