05/28/2016 10:17PM

Bert's Melody comes through as Fran's Valentine favorite


ARCADIA, Calif. – Intuitive bettors that focused on Bert’s Melody in the $125,000 Fran’s Valentine Stakes on Saturday at Santa Anita were rewarded when the 5-year-old Bertrando mare rallied from off the pace to win the mile turf stakes as the 9-5 favorite.

 Brice Blanc rode Bert’s Melody, 5-1 in the program after finishing second as the favorite last out in a second-level allowance. Trainer Sean McCarthy shortened her from nine furlongs, Brice Blanc rated her in second position behind the fast pace, and the result was a 1 1/4-length victory over Singing Kitty.

 Owned and bred by John Barr’s Oakcrest Stable, Bert’s Melody scored her first stakes win in the Fran’s Valentine. She has won 4 of 12 starts, and earned $231,893.

 “Brice rides her very well, and Sean trains her beautifully,” Barr said after the race. He was right on both counts.

 The race unfolded at a hot pace. Nite Delite opened up with a 45.62-second half-mile while Blanc rated Bert’s Melody more than three lengths back in second. After six furlongs in 1:10.01, Bert’s Melody took aim at the pacesetter into the lane, made the lead inside the eighth pole, turned back a challenge from Singing Kitty, and inched clear at the wire to win in 1:35.36.

 The stakes win was the first for McCarthy since Majestic Harbor upset the Grade 1 Gold Cup at Santa Anita on June 28, 2014. It was Blanc’s first win at the spring meet in his 24th mount.

Lily Kai rallied to third, pacesetter Nite Delite held fourth. The order of finish was completed by Velvet Mesquite, Sheer Pleasure, Madame Mousse, and Smoove It.

 There is a pick six carryover into Sunday of $103,276.