12/26/2012 5:41PM

Santa Anita: Book Review's La Brea win may hurt My Miss Aurelia's Eclipse chances

Benoit & Associates
Book Review, ridden by Rafael Bejarano, prevails in a three-horse photo with Reneesgotzip and favorite My Miss Aurelia in the La Brea Stakes.

ARCADIA, Calif. – Eclipse Award voters who responsibly waited until the La Brea Stakes was run on Wednesday at Santa Anita will have far more to ponder after My Miss Aurelia, seeking to enhance her chances of capturing the 3-year-old filly title, was upset in the Grade 1, $300,000 race, finishing third to the victorious Book Review after contesting a vicious, three-way battle for the lead.

The beneficiary for the Eclipse Award may be Questing, whom My Miss Aurelia finished in front of in both the Cotillion Stakes and the Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic, but who was the divisional leader during the summer at Saratoga.

The beneficiaries on Wednesday were Book Review, who sat behind a hot early pace that flattered her late run; trainer Bob Baffert, who only recently took over as Book Review’s trainer; and jockey Rafael Bejarano, who is no longer the first-call rider for Baffert, but came through with a gem of a ride.

Book Review ($11.60), sixth in the seven-horse field after a half-mile, came charging down the center of the track and just got up in the final strides to beat a game Reneesgotzip by a neck, with My Miss Aurelia another neck back in third.

Candrea was fourth and was followed, in order, by Nechez Dawn, Creditcardroulette, and Mamma Kimbo.

Book Review was timed in 1:22.41 for seven furlongs on a track rated wet-fast following overnight rain, but it was the early pace that told the tale. Reneesgotzip, Nechez Dawn, and My Miss Aurelia tore through the opening quarter in 22.42 seconds and the half-mile in 44.17, meaning the second quarter was run in a blistering 21.75 seconds. All three got leg weary in the final furlong, which took 13.52 seconds to complete, and Book Review pounced.

“I told him to keep her in the clear,” Baffert said of Bejarano. “When she gets behind horses, she doesn’t run well. It’s nice to get a Grade 1 win with her.”

Book Review, a homebred daughter of Giant’s Causeway for Gary and Mary West, had made her first nine starts on the East Coast for trainer Chad Brown. She was among a handful of horses added to Baffert’s barn in recent weeks by the Wests, who have a home in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., near Del Mar. Book Review was seventh in the Test, and fifth in the Gazelle, in her only prior tries in Grade 1 company, but this was her fifth win in 10 starts.

My Miss Aurelia, heavily favored at 2-5, looked to be in an ideal spot a furlong into the race, outside two horses who were intent on the lead. But she ended up engaging those two, and paid the price.

“It wasn’t an ideal trip,” said her rider, Corey Nakatani. “She was sharp. And she took a sharp bump from Reneesgotzip at the top of the stretch. Knocked her sideways. She stopped traveling.”

My Miss Aurelia, last year’s champion 2-year-old filly, suffered the first loss of her career in her previous start when a gallant second to Royal Delta in the Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic. She finished in front of Eclipse rival Questing in that race, and beat her in the Cotillion. But the La Brea result could compromise her chances among voters who waited for the result. Ballots go out in mid-December, and though they are not due until Jan. 3, a number of voters often cast ballots before year’s end.