12/31/2016 8:59PM

Decked Out takes American Oaks in a photo

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Benoit & Associates
Decked Out won the American Oaks by a nose Saturday.

ARCADIA, Calif. - Soggy days at Santa Anita suit Decked Out, the winner of the $302,415 American Oaks on Saturday.

Decked Out won the Grade 3 Providencia Stakes on turf on a wet day last April. Conditions were similar Saturday, with rain falling through the day. Unlike the Providencia, which Decked Out won by 2 3/4 lengths, the result of the Grade 1 American Oaks for 3-year-old fillies was decided by a photo finish.

Decked Out rallied from 10th to catch pacesetter Sassy Little Lita in the final stride, winning by a nose. Decked Out ran 1 1/8 miles on turf in 1:47.86. The race was scheduled for 1 1/4 miles on turf, but was reduced to 1 1/8 miles early Saturday afternoon to prevent the field from starting on the hillside turf course and racing briefly over the sloppy main track before joining the main turf oval.

The win was a family affair for brothers Keith and Kent Desormeaux, who train and rode Decked Out. They both said a good turf course suited Decked Out.

“We were hoping they wouldn’t take it off,” Kent Desormeaux said.

Decked Out was 10th in the field of 12 in the opening quarter-mile and was still ninth after six furlongs, trailing Sassy Little Lita by more than seven lengths. Kent Desormeaux brought Decked Out wide in the stretch. The filly was fourth with a furlong remaining, still trailing by three lengths.

The finish was too close to call.

“I thought I got up,” Kent Desormeaux said. “I didn’t know until the final stride. It was a harrowing stretch drive.”

Sassy Little Lita, a 4-1 shot who was making her graded stakes debut, finished a half-length in front of 17-1 Lady Valeur, who was followed by Dreamarcher, Barleysugar, Cheekaboo, Stays in Vegas, How Unusual, Queen Blossom, Sheeza Milky Way, Dynamic Mizzes K and Mokat.

Stays in Vegas, the 5-2 favorite, tracked Sassy Little Lita to early stretch before fading from contention.

Decked Out, by Street Boss, has won 3 of 16 starts and has earned $480,859. She is owned by Gene Voss, Big Chief Racing, and Head of Plains Partners.

Decked Out was beaten in five consecutive graded stakes following the Providencia, including a second by a head in the Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks in August.

The American Oaks was Decked Out’s first start since a troubled 12th-place finish in the Grade 1 Rodeo Drive Stakes against older fillies and mares here in October.

Keith Desormeaux said a decision was made to skip the Grade 1 Matriarch Stakes for fillies and mares on turf at Del Mar on Dec. 4 to focus on the American Oaks.