By Bob Kieckhefer BloodHorse
Anisette easily handled four rivals to win the American Oaks (G1T) Dec. 26 at Santa Anita Park, notching her second grade 1 score while shaking off the disappointment of back-to-back second-place finishes.
The victory backs up her win in the Del Mar Oaks (G1T) in August. Since then, she was second in the Rodeo Drive Stakes (G2T) and the Autumn Miss Stakes (G3T), both at Santa Anita and both, according to jockey Umberto Rispoli, with excuses.
The American Oaks was another story entirely. Anisette got away cleanly as the field started the 1 1/4-mile turf journey on the hillside course. She raced comfortably behind what little pace there was while crossing over the dirt track and passing the finish for the first time. She held that position around the clubhouse turn and down the backstretch and started to close the gap when asked entering the stretch turn.
Straightening for home, she easily worked by pacesetter Be Your Best and ran on to win by 1 3/4 lengths over that rival. Musical Mischief , making her turf debut, was another two lengths back in third. Sakura Flavor and Elounda Queen completed the order of finish.
“Today was a tactical race again,” Rispoli said. “We were just a couple of lengths behind the speed and she does the rest.
“It’s a pleasure to be on a filly like that. She has given me two grade 1s this year.”
Rispoli said Anisette “is back on top where she was at Del Mar” but added the two seconds since then came with excuses.
“The first time she got beat by Didia . The second time, the race had fallen apart with the horse running away from her,” he said.
The Oaks saw a steady loss of contenders. Just more than half the original nominees made it through the entry box and two of those, Khinjani and Grace Period , were race-day scratches, leaving a field of just five to vie for the $300,000 purse.
Anisette’s races have been well-spaced and she had not raced since Nov. 5, when she finished second to Ruby Nell in the Autumn Miss. Trainer Leonard Powell said before the American Oaks that was the plan.
“She has run well fresh before, so we hope she can do that again,” Powell said. “The winner that day was a very, very nice filly. There was no disgrace in running second to her.”
In the winner’s circle, Powell said it’s a credit to Anisette she has been able to maintain her form until the final week of the year.
“You need a horse to do that and she’s the goods, as I’ve said before,” Powell said. “We’ve chosen to give her plenty of time between races and that’s the key of keeping her on top of the game.
“She’s happy and healthy, so that’s the main thing.”
Anisette, bred by Morera Partnership in England, is by Awtaad out of the Teofilo mare Tutti Frutti . She carries the colors of Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners.
She began her career in England, beaten twice before her first victory Dec. 27 at Wolverhampton. All three of those starts came on all-weather surfaces.
Sent right to the turf at the start of her 3-year-old career, she blossomed quickly, winning her first California start in a May 29 allowance, overcoming a slow start. She jumped right up from that to win the San Clemente Stakes (G2T) at Del Mar before the Del Mar Oaks.