SCHERZINGER, WITH SMITH ABOARD, PULLS UPSET IN GRADE II SANTA MONICA STAKES, HOLLENDORFER TRAINEE WINS BY ONE LENGTH IN FIRST STAKES TRY

ARCADIA, Calif. (Jan. 25, 2014)—Sent from the gate by Mike Smith, Scherzinger applied telling early pressure to favored Teddy’s Promise and Victor Espinoza going to the half mile pole, then dropped back to third around the far turn and rallied at the rail to win Saturday’s Grade II Santa Monica Stakes by one length, getting seven furlongs in 1:22 flat.

Off as the third choice in a field of six older fillies and mares at 4-1, Scherzinger, trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, came off an impressive second condition allowance win on Jan. 2 and was trying stakes company for the first time in the Santa Monica.

“Just a little bit of race-riding today,” said Smith with a smile. “I used her early and got her up there to make Victor to either use his filly or make her take back, one way or the other, and he chose to take back, which was good for us.

“When he went to the outside (at the half mile pole) they made a little move on me, which I also thought was good for us because I really like seven-eighths for this filly. She has a big long stride and just keeps coming and coming. She just wore ‘em down today.”

Owned by Mark DeDomenico LLC, Jerry Hollendorfer, Jason Litt and Alex Solis II, Scherzinger, a 4-year-old filly by Tiz Wonderful, paid $10.60, $5.20 and $2.80.

Scherzinger picked up $120,000 for the win, increasing her bankroll to $245,374. She now has four wins from seven career starts.

“It was a great job by Mike Smith,” said Hollendorfer. “We didn’t really expect to be out on the front end, but he used his own judgment and that’s fine with us.”

The heavy 7-5 favorite, 6-year-old Teddy’s Promise drew post position two and with a well documented history of not liking to run inside horses, her chances were no-doubt compromised by the early pressure applied from Smith, who was drawn in post five. That said, she gave a big account of herself in her career-finale, taking the lead past the half and dispatching an aggressive early move from speedy Heir Kitty and Gary Stevens into and around the far turn, finishing third behind both the winner and a late-running Iotapa.

“The race set up a little difficult for me out of the gate,” said Espinoza. “The other horse broke faster than me and I got stuck on the inside. I didn’t want to go head and head with the other horse so I started to use up my horse a little bit to move to the outside. After I was doing that the horse on the outside (Heir Kitty) put pressure on me right away so at that point I had to just let her go a little bit. I used her earlier that I wanted and she flattened out on me at the end.”

Iotapa, ridden by Rafael Bejarano, off at 9-2, finished a half length in front of Teddy’s Promise and paid $5.60 and $3.00.

Teddy’s Promise paid $2.40 to show.

Fractions on the race were 23.00, 45.48 and 1:09.36.