06/15/2013 7:59PM

Hollywood Park: Byrama makes winning move in Vanity

Benoit & Associates
Byrama and jockey Gary Stevens won the Grade 1 Vanity Handicap by 3 1/2 lengths Saturday.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Byrama was closing rapidly on pacesetter Royal Tiger on the turn Saturday’s $250,250 Vanity Handicap at Betfair Hollywood Park when jockey Gary Stevens altered his strategy.

With More Chocolate ranging on the outside of Byrama as the field neared the stretch, Stevens knew he needed to react to stay ahead of that well-regarded rival.

“I knew she was the horse to beat, and I put her away,” Stevens said.

With the move, Byrama ($25.40) went on to score an upset win in the Grade 1 Vanity Handicap for fillies and mares over 1 1/8 miles. Byrama won the Vanity by 3 1/2 lengths over More Chocolate, finishing in 1:51.40.

“Gary gave her a perfect race and got her to settle,” trainer Simon Callaghan said.

The Vanity was the longest winning distance in Byrama’s career. A 4-year-old British-bred filly by Byron, Byrama won two sprint stakes on turf in 2012.

The presence of Byrama in the Vanity was a case of Callaghan and owner Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners taking a chance at a different distance. The other option was Sunday’s $70,000 Desert Stormer Handicap for female sprinters, a race that drew two Grade 1 winners in Include Me Out and Teddy’s Promise.

 “It was either that or this race,” Callaghan said. “This looked an open race and it was a Grade 1. That looked like a hard race.”

In her only preceding start at 1 1/8 miles, Byrama was second in the Grade 3 Providencia Stakes on turf at Santa Anita in April 2012.

The Vanity had six runners. Byrama broke well and was second on the backstretch, tracking 17-1 Royal Tiger, who led by as many as five lengths. Royal Tiger came back to the field on the turn, when More Chocolate moved closer to Byrama.

More Chocolate, who won the Grade 2 La Canada Stakes at Santa Anita in January, finished 1 1/4 lengths in front of Lady of Fifty, the 8-5 favorite. Royal Tiger finished fourth, followed by Open Water and Esentepe. Open Wager won the Grade 2 Marjorie Everett Handicap in May. She was as close as fourth on the turn, but never threatened Byrama.

Byrama has won 5 of 19 starts and $484,750. She was an unlucky second in the Grade 1 Madison Stakes at Keeneland in April when she raced in traffic in the stretch. Byrama was sixth in the Humana Distaff Stakes at Churchill Downs on May 4, finishing five lengths behind Aubby K.

“She was the moral winner at Keeneland,” Callaghan said. “She was best that day and to win a Grade 1 with her is fantastic.”