10/31/2010 7:00PM

Briecat leads all the way in Las Palmas Handicap

Benoit & Associates
Briecat lead gate to wire in Sunday's Grade 2 Las Palmas Handicap at Hollywood Park.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. – Briecat’s upset win in the $150,000 Las Palmas Handicap at Hollywood Park on Sunday equaled the most prestigious win of her career, but it meant more to trainer Vladimir Cerin.

The Grade 2 Las Palmas was Briecat’s first graded stakes win since the Grade 2 Bayakoa Handicap at Hollywood Park in 2008.

“The Bayakoa, I expected her to win, but this was a quality field,” Cerin said.

Cerin credited jockey Patrick Valenzuela with the win, leading throughout the one-mile turf race. Valenzuela had Briecat away well from the rail and leading by two lengths on the backstretch through modest fractions of 24.20 and 47.92 seconds. Briecat led by two lengths turning for home, by a length at the eighth pole, and held on to win by a neck over 5-1 Westwood Pride.

“I knew I had a horse underneath me,” Valenzuela said. “Going into the turn is when I think I won the race.”

Briecat ($29) ran a mile on turf in 1:34.77. The Las Palmas was her second stakes win of the year, preceded by the minor Las Madrinas Handicap at Fairplex Park last month when she led throughout 1 1/16 miles on the dirt.

“The key is to open up turning for home and see if they can come and get you, and they couldn’t,” Cerin said.

Turning Top finished third, a head behind Westwood Pride in the field of eight. Blue Maiden, the 6-5 favorite, finished seventh. She was fifth on the backstretch and offered no threat in the stretch.

Briecat races for David and Holly Wilson. A 5-year-old mare, Briecat has won 8 of 24 starts and $476,805. Since her win in the 2008 Bayakoa, Briecat also has finished second to Zenyatta in the Grade 1 Vanity Handicap here in June 2009.