12/26/2015 7:39PM

Birdatthewire goes from last to first in La Brea

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Benoit & Associates
Birdatthewire, under Mike Smith, earns her first Grade 1 victory in the La Brea.

ARCADIA, Calif. – With a pair of Grade 2 stakes wins earlier this year at Gulfstream Park, Birdatthewire looked like one of the elite 3-year-old fillies in the country, and certainly a top prospect for the Kentucky Oaks. But after finishing fifth in the Oaks, it was six months before she got back in action, and even then she wasn’t quite at her best.

 That all changed Saturday, when Birdatthewire saved her best for her last start of the year. Making her first start in California, she rallied from last to first in the nine-horse field and earned her first Grade 1 win in the $301,000 La Brea Stakes for 3-year-old fillies on Santa Anita’s opening-day card.

 Birdatthewire ($23.80), under Mike Smith, rallied down the center of the track and reeled in pacesetter Hot City Girl in the closing yards to win by a half-length, with 7-5 favorite Cavorting another 1 1/4 lengths back in third.

 Ben’s Duchess was fourth and was followed, in order, by Rattataptap, Finest City, Maybellene, Moyo Honey, and Pleasant Tales.

 Birdatthewire completed seven furlongs on the fast main track in 1:23.31. Hot City Girl set splits of 22.71 seconds for the quarter, 45.35 for the half, and 1:10.18 for six furlongs before yielding.

 “That was a big race,” said winning trainer Dale Romans, who watched the La Brea from Kentucky, where he spent the Christmas holiday before heading to Florida next week. “Cutting back in distance helped. She can go longer, but she wants to make one run.”

Birdatthewire won the Forward Gal going seven furlongs at Gulfstream in January, and the Gulfstream Park Oaks in March. She then finished fifth in the Kentucky Oaks, and did not race again for six months.

 “She came out of the Kentucky Oaks with issues,” Romans said. “Nothing serious -- we didn’t stop on her, trying to make the fall -- but we were a little behind.”

 Birdatthewire made two starts at Churchill Downs in November, finishing fifth in the Chilukki – a one-turn mile – and then fourth in the Falls City, both Grade 2 races.

 Birdatthewire, a daughter of Summer Bird, has now won 4 of 11 starts. The first prize of $180,000 brought her career earnings to $569,090 for her owners, Forum Racing IV.

 Romans said Birdatthewire may remain at Santa Anita “for the winter.” At the least, another seven-furlong race in exactly four weeks, the Grade 2, $200,000 Santa Monica, certainly looks tempting.