Arnold Zetcher LLC and Michael B. Tabor's Fashion Plate handed even-money favorite Streaming her first loss when holding that rival by a half-length to wire Saturday's Grade 1, $300,500 Las Virgenes at Santa Anita. The Simon Callaghan trainee was making her stakes bow in the one-mile contest off a 6 1/2-length maiden victory, and paid $11.40 for the win as the 9-2 third choice.
Jose Arias, who won the DRF/NTRA National Handicapping Championship last weekend, presented the Las Virgenes trophy.
"It's awesome to be out here," he said. "It's been a great day and it's an honor to present the trophy for such a historic race like the Las Virgenes."
Fashion Plate and Taste Like Candy both headed for the lead out of the gate, with the former taking command on the backstretch through splits of :23, :46 1/5 and 1:10 4/5. Streaming was seeking to move her record to a perfect three-for-three following victory in the Hollywood Starlet last out, and bided her time in third before beginning her move entering the turn.
Taste Like Candy started to drop back rounding the turn but Fashion Plate and Streaming were still going strong. Under encouragement from jockey Gary Stevens, Fashion Plate managed to hold off her rival as Arethusa came flying to just miss second on the wire.
"She's a very cooperative filly. You never know first time going long," Stevens said. "I will say, the other day another horse broke in on her during a work and it showed me a lot about her.
"She broke very relaxed and I didn't want to get her rolling (too early.) She was content to stay inside of Rafael (Bejarano on Taste Like Candy) around the first turn and at the three-quarter pole I knew (the pace) wasn't good for either one of us, even though she was relaxed so I let her out a notch and she did what I wanted her to do. This was pretty-much the hardest I've had to work this meet."
"When they came to her, she really dug in and tried real hard," Callaghan remarked. "She's a special filly. It means a lot to win this race. Gary put up a great ride. She went nice fractions, she went pretty quick and I think that was a testament to her courage and ability that she was able to do that and sustain the run."
Fashion Plate has really blossomed since transferring to dirt (Benoit Photos)
Streaming, Arethusa and Taste Like Candy all met up in the Starlet last out, with the former posted a 1 1/2-length victory over Taste Like Candy while Arethusa was back in fifth. On Saturday, Streaming filled the runner-up spot as Arethusa finished 2 1/4 lengths in front of fourth-placer Taste Like Candy. Artemis, Saintly Joan and Sushi Empire completed the order of finish following the scratch of U.S. debuter Earthflight.
"Turning for home, I thought we had it," said Bob Baffert, who trains Streaming. "That's why (Stevens is) the best though, he's tough. (Streaming) ran better when she was 10-1!"
Fashion Plate took three tries to break her maiden, finishing a well-beaten seventh on the synthetic Polytrack at Del Mar before another far back third on Hollywood Park's all-weather Cushion Track. Making her dirt bow December 29 at Santa Anita, the change in surface was obviously a welcome change as the Old Fashioned filly wired that six-furlong contest by 6 1/2 lengths.
Saturday's stakes debut triumph boosted Fashion Plate's career earnings to $219,250 and her line now stands at 4-2-0-1. She also earned 10 points on the Road to the Kentucky Oaks series.
"We'll look at the (Grade 1, $400,000) Santa Anita Oaks (on April 5) and if she does well there, maybe we'll take her to (Grade 1) Kentucky (Oaks on May 2)," Callaghan declared.
Bred in Kentucky by Springland Farm and Fox Hill Farms Inc., Fashion Plate is no stranger to the auction ring. The dark bay sophomore brought $75,000 as a Keeneland November weanling before selling as a Keeneland September yearling for $35,000. Last spring she eclipsed those prices when purchased for $340,000 at the OBS Spring Sale of Two-Year-Olds in Training.
Fashion Plate is out of the listed-placed Citidancer mare Mizz Puzzle, who has also produced stakes winner Mr. Candy Bar, and counts as her second dam Group 3 runner-up Miss Tree. That mare is a half-sister to New Zealand Horse of the Year and multiple champion Tit for Taat.