09/11/2016 8:56PM

Bendable topples Enola Gray in Beverly Lewis Stakes


CYPRESS, Calif.- Bendable turned a brilliant start into her first stakes win in Sunday’s $75,000 Beverly Lewis Stakes at Los Alamitos, easily defeating the previously unbeaten Enola Gray, the 1-5 favorite.

Ridden by Mike Smith, Bendable disputed the early lead, led narrowly in early stretch, and pulled clear to win the sprint for 3-year-old fillies by 2 1/4 lengths. Enola Gray, who won her first three starts, including two stakes for California-breds, never reached the front and finished a clear second, 3 1/4 lengths in front of 35-1 Everqueen in the field of five.

Bendable ($9) ran six furlongs in 1:08.84. Smith said trainer Richard Mandella advised him that Bendable is best when allowed to run on the front. Smith and Mandella had a strategy discussion about the Lewis Stakes on Saturday before Mandella left California for the Keeneland September yearling sale.

“He said, ‘Don’t take anything away from her if it comes easily,’ ” Smith recalled. “I was surprised. I was very loaded and when I asked her, she kicked it in.”

Uptown Twirl led by a head over Bendable through an opening quarter-mile in 22.36 seconds. All five runners were close to the pace, separated by less than a length. On the turn, Enola Gray was well-placed with a four-wide rally, but could not take the lead under jockey Tyler Baze.

Owner Nick Alexander said Enola Gray would have been better suited by taking the lead from Bendable at the start.

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“The plan was to be with the other filly,” Alexander said. “She’s a nice filly. We ran a good race. We just got beat.”

Enola Gray won the Melair Stakes and Fleet Treat Stakes for California-breds in May and July. She missed a scheduled start in the Grade 3 Torrey Pines Stakes at Del Mar in late August because of illness. Trainer Phil D’Amato said last Thursday that he was confident Enola Gray had recovered from the illness in advance of Sunday’s race.

Bendable, by Horse Greeley, is owned by breeder Claiborne Farm. Bendable won her first two starts – a maiden race and an optional claimer at Santa Anita in June and early July - before finishing second in an optional claimer against older fillies and mares in her only start of the Del Mar summer meeting on July 27.

For Smith, the victory led him to recall wins for Claiborne Farms more than 20 years ago. He was the regular rider of Lure, who won the Breeders’ Cup Mile for Claiborne in 1992 and 1993.

“I have a lot of good memories with these silks,” Smith said.