02/12/2011 8:10PM

Holy Heavens soars from last to first in Martha Washington

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HOT SPRINGS, Ark .- Holy Heavens has struck first in Oaklawn Park’s series for 3-year-old fillies. She closed from last to win the $75,000 Martha Washington with authority, by a length over Scarlet Mist. It was another 3 1/4 lengths back in third to Jazzin Okie.

The Martha Washington was the first of two local preps for the Grade 2, $300,000 Fantasy on April 10. Next up is the Grade 3, $125,000 Honeybee on March 12, and the race could draw Holy Heavens.

“There’s a lot of opportunities for her here, especially going two turns,” said co-owner K.K. Jayaraman.

Holy Heavens ($14.60) has stepped up her game since moving to dirt back in November. She began her career racing on Polytrack and turf at Arlington Park, but in her first dirt appearance won a maiden special weight at Delta Downs. From there, she was third in the $200,000 My Trusty Cat at the Vinton, La., oval on Jan. 14 before shipping to Oaklawn to begin preparations for the Martha Washington.

Holy Heavens trailed early as Roma Jean led the field through an opening half-mile in 48.51 seconds, pushed along by Scarlet Mist over a track rated good. The eventual winner was able to advance along the rail, then angled out approaching the quarter pole and kicked home to cover the one-mile race that ended at the sixteenth pole in 1:42.96. 

Israel Ocampo rode the winner for trainer Benard Chatters, who picked up his first Oaklawn stakes win with Holy Heavens.

Grandacious, the 6-5 favorite, drifted on both turns and finished sixth.

Holy Heavens, a daughter of Holy Bull, is the third Martha Washington winner for Jayaraman and his wife, Vilasini. The couple also won the race in 1994 with Beauty’s Sake and in 2003 with that filly’s future daughter, Explosive Beauty.

* Attendance at Oaklawn was 17,131. It was the first card at the track since Jan. 30, due to a rash of winter storms that forced the cancellation of six straight programs