05/27/2007 11:00PM

Citronnade proves uncatchable


INGLEWOOD, Calif. -- The ascension of Citronnade among the West’s female turf runners continued on Monday, when she won her fourth straight race, and first Grade 1, in the $367,800 Gamely Handicap at Hollywood Park.

But the Memorial Day feature was marred by the breakdown of Three Degrees, who fractured her left front ankle so badly she had to be euthanized right in front of the stands on the turf course.

Citronnade ($3.60) got the soft trip bettors envisioned, and led her five rivals on a merry chase after a slightly slow start. She was able to set a comfortable pace under jockey David Flores, then stormed through the final three furlongs in 34.57 seconds to beat her Bobby Frankel-trained stablemate Price Tag by three-quarters of a length.

Vacare finished another 4 1/2 lengths back in third. Three Degrees crossed the wire fourth after taking a bad step just before the wire. She was quickly pulled up by jockey Victor Espinoza, but her injuries were severe.

Citronnade quickly jumped into the bridle after the start, got to the front, then set fractions of 23.95 seconds, 47.97 seconds, and 1:11.16 for the first six furlongs. She completed 1 1/8 miles on firm turf in 1:45.73, and she needed to run that fast, because Price Tag made a bold move coming off the final turn.

“I was worried about Price Tag,” Flores said. “My filly got left a little bit. I got her out, and then as soon as she got to the lead she relaxed. She’s got a long stride. Nobody chased me early. She set a comfortable pace. When I got to the three-eighths, I knew it was over.”

Citronnade, 4, has now won 7 times in 10 starts. She scored a pair of front-running wins in the San Gorgonio and Santa Ana handicaps at Santa Anita earlier this year, then had a two-month freshening for the Gamely.

“You can sleep in the stall with her," said Humberto Ascanio, Frankel’s top assistant. "That’s how nice she is. She walks into the paddock like it’s nothing. But she’s a tiger on the track.”