04/23/2016 9:35PM

Finest City gives trainer first stakes win by upsetting Great Lady M

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Benoit & Associates
Finest City, ridden by Kent Desormeaux, sets a track record for 6 1/2 furlongs winning the Grade 2 Great Lady M.

CYPRESS, Calif. -  Finest City has been hampered by a tibia injury, an issue with a check ligament, and a quarter crack at times in the last two years.

Saturday, there were no mishaps in the $200,690 Great Lady M Stakes for fillies and mares at Los Alamitos. Finest City won the first stakes of her career in the Grade 2 Great Lady M, and set a track record of 1:14.48 with the hard-fought win. She gave trainer Ian Kruljac, 27, the first stakes win of his career.

Finest City ($19.60) closed from off the pace to take the lead in the final sixteenth and deny 1-2 favorite Fantastic Style, who won the Great Lady M Stakes here last July. Finest City won by 1 1/4 lengths to record a milestone for Kruljac.

“Hopefully, there are many more to go,” Kruljac said.

Finest City broke from the outside post in a field of seven, and the draw was pivotal, Kruljac said. In early stretch, he was hoping jockey Kent Desormeaux could guide Finest City to the outside of rivals to allow Finest City a chance to rally.

“I wanted her to get her outside,” Kruljac said. “She was begging for room in the last couple of runs. She likes to be on the outside.”

Finest City’s final time lowered the previous track record of 1:14.60 set by Patriots Rule in September 2014.

Fantastic Style finished a head in front of Lost Bus, the winner of the Grade 2 Santa Monica Stakes for fillies and mares at Santa Anita in January. Finest City was beaten a head when second in the Santa Monica, and was later third in an optional claimer in February and a well-beaten fourth behind Fantastic Style in the Grade 3 Las Flores Stakes at Santa Anita on March 20.

Fantastic Style had every chance. She stalked pacesetter Thirteen Arrows on the backstretch before taking the lead entering the long stretch. The loss ended a three-race winning streak for Fantastic Style.

Finest City, by City Zip, has won 3 of 10 starts and earned $275,594. A 4-year-old, she races for Seltzer Thoroughbreds.