09/30/2017 8:08PM

Prat notches third Grade 1 of the day as Avenge repeats in Rodeo Drive

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Benoit & Associates
Avenge returned $6 for her repeat victory Saturday in the Grade 1 Rodeo Drive at Santa Anita.

ARCADIA, Calif. – Early autumn in Southern California is a perfect time for the 5-year-old mare Avenge.

Saturday at Santa Anita, Avenge won the Grade 1 Rodeo Drive Stakes for the second consecutive year on the first weekend of the track’s autumn meeting.

The win gave Avenge a fees-paid berth to the BC Filly and Mare Turf at Del Mar on Nov. 4 through the Breeders’ Cup Win and You’re In program. Avenge was a game third in the 2016 BC Filly and Mare Turf.

Avenge won the 2016 Rodeo Drive by leading throughout. She won Saturday’s $301,380 race from a stalking position.

“It’s nice that it worked out so well,” said winning trainer Richard Mandella said.

Ridden by Flavien Prat, Avenge stalked 12-1 Goldy Espony for the first six furlongs before taking a commanding lead. Avenge led by 2 1/2 lengths with a furlong to go and won by three-quarters of a length over Goldy Espony, who finished a nose in front of 11-1 Responsibleforlove.

Mandella said a change in tactics was fine with him, especially as he saw the stretch run unfold.

“I felt better about it at the quarter-mile when she [got away] from them,” Mandella said. “I wasn’t looking to change it, but [Goldy Espony] took the place we were thinking.”

Avenge gave Prat his third Grade 1 win of the day and was the second for Mandella. They teamed to win the Zenyatta Stakes for fillies and mares on dirt with Paradise Woods earlier in the day.

Prat also won the Chandelier Stakes for 2-year-old fillies with Moonshine Memories.

“This is what we do this for,” Mandella said of the two major stakes wins.

Avenge ($6) ran 1 1/4 miles on turf in 1:58.74.

Amboseli finished fourth, followed by Decked Out, Majestic Heat, Frenzified, Goodyearforroses, and Kiss Me Now.

Goodyearforroses, the even-money favorite, was well-placed to early stretch before fading to finish about five lengths behind the winner.

Avenge, by War Front, had her third start of 2017 in the Rodeo Drive. She was third in the Grade 1 Gamely Stakes here in May, and sixth as the 9-10 favorite in the Grade 2 Yellow Ribbon Handicap at Del Mar on Aug. 5.

Before the Yellow Ribbon, Avenge became upset in the gate and kicked herself, Mandella said.

“She kicked herself in the gate and put a hole in her ankle,” Mandella said. “I’m sure it hurt."

Avenge has won 7 of 16 starts and earned $860,341 for owner Ramona Bass. The 2017 Rodeo Drive was her fourth stakes win.