02/20/2012 8:57PM

Santa Anita: City to City responds to Nakatani in Buena Vista

Benoit & Associates
City to City, ridden by Corey Nakatani for the first time, captures the Grade 2 Buena Vista.

ARCADIA, Calif.- Corey Nakatani has spent recent weeks getting to know City to City, the mare he rode to an upset win in Monday’s $150,00 Buena Vista Handicap at Santa Anita.

Nakatani rode City to City in workouts, working with Dan Ward, Jerry Hollendorfer’s assistant, to learn the nuances of a 5-year-old multiple stakes-winning mare who was winless in her last four starts.

“Dan said, ‘You’ll fit this filly,’” Nakatani recalled. “See if you can get her to turn off and go when you ask her.’”

The theory was put to the test in the Grade 2 Buena Vista for fillies and mares over a mile on turf – and it worked perfectly

Nakatani had City to City in fifth place in the field of 11 on the backstretch, tracking a quick pace for the first half-mile. Approaching the turn, Nakatani urged City to City closer to the leaders. Fourth on the turn, City to City rallied wide to take the lead in the final furlong, holding off a late threat from 8-1 Up In Time to win by a head. Wild Mia, a 10-1 shot, closed along the rail to finish third.

City to City ($19) was timed in 1:34.19. By City Zip, City to City has won 7 of 24 starts and $503,491.

“It couldn’t have set up any better,” Nakatani said. “When picked her up at the three and a half [furlong mark], she really took off. When I asked her, she kicked for home.”

Owned by a partnership that includes William deBurgh, Mark DeDomenico and Hollendorfer, City to City won for the first time since the Grade 2 Palomar Handicap at Del Mar last September. She was fourth as the 9-5 favorite in the Grade 2 Robert Frankel Stakes on Jan. 1.

In the Buena Vista, City to City had the trip that many other fillies and mares needed to have a chance. Cambina, a four-time stakes winner last year, was last with a quarter-mile remaining and flew through the stretch to finish 1 1/4 lengths behind the winner. It was a frustrating result for jockey Mike Smith, who argued that having the inside rails 15 feet from the permanent position made the course too narrow for such a large field.

“It was a good race to move her up,” Smith said of Cambina. “When they have the rails out in a full field, they don’t give guys coming from behind much of a shot. It’s either take the overland route or eat them.”

Vamo a Galupiar, the 3-1 favorite, was 10th on the backstretch, but stuck in traffic in early stretch and could only finish sixth.