05/30/2016 8:38PM

Living The Life beats males in All American Stakes

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Shane Micheli/Vassar Photography
Living The Life (left) earns a narrow victory over Southern Freedom in the All American Stakes on Monday.

ALBANY, Calif. – Trainer Gary Mandella said Living The Life's victory in the $101,575, Grade 3 All American on Monday at Golden Gate Fields simply came down to a matter of percentages.

Living The Life ($7.20), the lone female in a full field on 12 in the one-mile race, had the choice of tackling Beholder in the Vanity Mile at Santa Anita next Saturday or 11 males on a surface she absolutely loves. Mandella chose correctly, as Living The Life became the first female in 48 runnings to win the race that dates back to 1968.

"Running in the right race 90 percent of the time serves you well," said Mandella.

And when you get a dream trip, you are equally well served.

Southern Freedom took the lead out of the gate, with Living The Life sitting just outside him. Eagle Screams moved up outside the 6-year-old Footstepsinthesand mare down the backstretch as the trio cut out solid fractions of 24.73 and 48.78 seconds.

Southern Freedom on the rail, Living The Life in the 2 path, and Eagle Screams in the 3 path were only heads apart as they hit the quarter pole in 1:12.73. Living The Life stuck her head in front of Southern Freedom in the stretch as they began to inch away from Eagle Screams. The two dueled to the wire, with Southern Freedom seeming to pull even 50 yards from the wire, but Living The Life dug in and won the race by a neck in 1:37.56.

"She had [Southern Freedom] measured,” said winning jockey Drayden Van Dyke. "She wouldn't let him by. She finished very well and fought hard." 

Eckersley rallied from last to be third, 1 1/4 lengths behind Southern Freedom and three-quarters of a length in front of Outside Nashville, Eagle Screams, and Tamarando in a three-way photo for fourth.

"When she broke good and was only two wide on the first turn, I felt really good," said Mandella. "She was comfortable and hadn't lost much ground, so I had a really good feeling. She was running comfortably down the backstretch even when that horse came up just outside her. She loves to fight. It makes her really special. She's blessed with a lot of talent, but you saw how she fights today. Any time you beat the boys, you're doing something out of the ordinary."

Owned by HnR Nothhaft Horse Racing, Living The Life earned $60,000 for her 10th career victory in 33 starts. Nine of the wins have come on synthetic surfaces. She has career earnings of $948,049.

She'll be pointed to the Grade 2 Presque Isle Masters, where she'll try to score her third straight victory in the race Sept. 7.