03/26/2011 7:41PM

Oaklawn: Gran Lioness wires Prima Donna


HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - Gran Lioness was sharp on the cutback to one turn Saturday, when she led throughout to win the $75,000 Prima Donna by 1 1/4 lengths at Oaklawn Park. Garnet Crystals rallied for second, finishing seven lengths clear of third-place Lady Giacamo.

Gran Lioness ($2.80) came into the Prima Donna off a third-place finish in the Grade 3 Rachel Alexandra at 1 1/16 miles at Fair Grounds on Feb. 19. She broke well Saturday, and led the field through an opening quarter in 22.23 seconds. Gran Lioness then withstood pressure on the turn from Lady Giacamo, shook that one in the stretch and drove clear. Gran Lioness covered the six furlongs for 3-year-old fillies in 1:11.01.

“She’s all about racing,” said winning rider Cliff Berry, who registered his fourth win on the card in the Prima Donna. “She pinned her ears every step of the way.”

Bret Calhoun trains Gran Lioness for Wayne Sanders and Larry Hirsch. The filly was shortened up in distance with an eye to the Grade 2, $150,000 Beaumont at about seven furlongs at Keeneland on April 17. Earlier this year, Gran Lioness won the first stakes of her career in the $200,000 My Trusty Cat at Delta Downs.