Updated on 09/17/2011 11:32AM

Halfbridled solidifies status in Oak Leaf

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Halfbridled with Julie Krone riding wins the $250,000 Oak Leaf Stakes at Santa Anita's Oak Tree meeting.

ARCADIA, Calif. - Halfbridled stamped herself as perhaps the shortest-priced Breeders' Cup favorite with another flawless performance, this time in Sunday's Grade 2, $250,000 at Santa Anita's Oak Tree meeting.

Halfbridled toyed with her six rivals for the first six furlongs on the 1 1/16-mile race, then drew clear when asked by jockey Julie Krone and checked in 4 1/2 lengths in front of Tarlow. Hollywood Story, like Tarlow trained by John Shirreffs, was another half-length back in third.

The victory was the third in as many starts for Halfbridled, who previously won a maiden race at Del Mar and the Del Mar Debutante. The Oak Leaf marked her first try around two turns. She passed that test with nary a worry.

Halfbridled now heads to the Oct. 25 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies as a heavy favorite. If she can win that race, she will emulate Phone Chatter, who won the Oak Leaf and the Juvenile Fillies 10 years ago at Santa Anita for trainer Richard Mandella.

Mandella is not one to pass around superlatives cavalierly. Even when discussing Halfbridled, he retains his usual calm demeanor, but he betrays his confidence with his words.

"I said from the start that she's pretty special. I'll stick with that," said Mandella, who trains Halfbridled for the Wertheimer Farm.

With no other pace in the race, Krone allowed Halfbridled to go to the lead, but the fractions were moderate. After clicking off fractions of 24.02 seconds, 48.09 seconds, and 1:12.56 for the first six furlongs, Krone finally let go of her hammerlock. Halfbridled immediately disposed of her rivals, while covering 1 1/16 miles on the fast main track in 1:43.72.

"She is truly amazing," Krone said. "Her stride is incredible, and again she galloped out like a monster."