Updated on 09/17/2011 10:04PM

Angara proves herself in Beverly D. victory


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - Trainer Patrick Biancone and jockey Gary Stevens long have maintained that Angara is a horse of top quality with a tremendous turn of foot, but the filly had not quite proven as much in several high-profile stakes.

Until Saturday, that is. Facing easily the best assemblage of female turf runners so far this year, Angara, with Stevens aboard, flew past most of the field and posted a neck victory over another late runner, Megahertz, to win the 16th running of the Grade 1 on Saturday at Arlington Park.

"This filly, she's just unbelievable," said Stevens. "I didn't even have to hit her. She's just a super, super filly."

Angara returned $14.80 to win, finishing 1 3/16 miles in 1:58.30 over turf rated yielding.

The pace for the Beverly D. was not particularly fast, leading to most of the field being bunched together for much of the trip. Wend had early traffic problems when she attended the pace before fading to finish sixth, but perhaps the most critical spot of trouble came for Melhor Ainda, the 3-year-old standout who was full of run in midstretch but lacked racing room while Angara and Megahertz were passing her in full gear. Melhor Ainda, the 3-1 favorite in a field of nine, wound up third, just a head behind Megahertz, after breaking free for the final sixteenth-mile.

"I got squeezed in there and had no place to go," said John Velazquez, who rode Melhor Ainda. "I had three horses in front of me all the way."

Melhor Ainda finished a neck in front of Wonder Again, who had made a looping move to challenge for the lead briefly in early stretch before being overtaken by the top three. Completing the order of finish were Sundrop, Wend, Mona Lisa, Halo Ola, and Miss Terrible. The British filly Tarfah was an early scratch after being reported lame on race morning.

The Beverly D. victory was the second for Stevens, who won in 1991 with Fire the Groom for trainer Bill Shoemaker. Angara, said Stevens, was not hindered by the slow fractions of 24.36 seconds, 49.23, and 1:15.47. "The slower they go, the more trouble they're in," said Stevens. "That leaves us that much more in the tank."

Angara, a British-bred filly by Alzao, earned $450,000 from the $750,000 purse to nearly triple her career bankroll. The victory was her fifth from 12 starts, and just her second stakes in North America, following the Grade 3 Bewitch at Keeneland in April.

The Beverly D. win capped a sensational flurry on Saturday for the Biancone barn, which 20 minutes earlier won the Vanderbilt Handicap at Saratoga with Pomeroy.

Secretariat: Gun Salute stalks and pounces

Gun Salute got a perfect trip from just off a sustained duel that involved heavily favored English Channel before going on to a 1 3/4-length victory in the Grade 1 .

Trained by Bill Mott and ridden by Cornelio Velasquez, Gun Salute returned $14.80 as fourth choice in a field of eight 3-year-olds. English Channel, whose runner-up finish ended his bid for a multi-race bonus totaling $5 million, settled for second, another five lengths before Chattahoochee War.

English Channel, racing closest to the rail after breaking cleanly from the inside post, dueled almost from the start with Purim. Nearing the quarter pole, Purim had had enough, but then Gun Salute moved alongside English Channel before steadily pulling away. The final time over a yielding turf was 2:03.79.

Gun Salute, by the Danzig sire Military, was bred and is owned by Brant Laue. The colt now has won 5 of 9 starts with earnings of $538,344.

"This is an extremely gratifying win," said Laue.

Gun Salute became the third horse to win the American Derby and Secretariat, following Vaudeville in 1994 and Honor Glide in 1997. Three starts back, when he won the Forerunner at Keeneland, Gun Salute was equipped with blinkers for the first time.

"I think the blinkers and the added distance have really helped," said Mott. "He's really become more professional this year."

The Secretariat win was the second for Mott, who won 20 years ago with Derby Wish.

The victory capped a terrific recent run at Arlington for Velasquez. Three weeks beforehand, he swept all three preps for the track's Turf Festival stakes, including a narrow win on Gun Salute in the American Derby.

English Channel, the 9-10 favorite under John Velazquez, was eligible for a $5 million payday in purses and bonus money after winning the Colonial Cup and Virginia Derby. He would have had to win the Oct. 29 Breeders' Cup Turf to complete a four-race sweep and earn the bonus.

In earlier races Saturday:

* Nkosi Reigns ($10.80), ridden by Chris Emigh, drew clear turning for home before posting a 1 1/2-length victory in the $47,100 Cigar Stakes. Bodgiteer was second, and Lord of the Game, the 3-2 favorite, finished in a dead heat for fourth.

* Straight Line ($7.20), with Shaun Bridgmohan up, ran down Wonone in deep stretch for a hard-fought half-length triumph in the $48,000 Forward Pass Stakes.