03/15/2014 5:57PM

Santa Anita: Tribal Spy alone in front of Irish O'Brien rivals

Benoit & Associates
Irving Orozco collects his first stakes victory aboard the filly Tribal Spy in the Irish O'Brien.

ARCADIA, Calif. – Tribal Spy really did have the luck of the Irish on her side in the $100,500 Irish O’Brien Stakes on Saturday at Santa Anita.

She was one of two horses in the race seemingly with early speed, but when Ciao Bella Luna got off absolutely last in the field of seven, Tribal Spy found herself with an uncontested lead, and she nursed it all the way to the wire to win the downhill turf sprint for California-bred females.

Tribal Spy ($10.40) got away with soft fractions – for the downhill course -- of 22.36 seconds for the opening quarter and 44.75 for a half-mile while covering the about 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:12.59 to give jockey Irving Orozco his first stakes win.

Tribal Spy held on to win by one length over an unlucky Ciao Bella Luna, who bravely got back into contention and fought on along the rail through the lane. Ciao Bella Luna finished second by a head over Dancingtothestars, with 2-1 favorite Could Be Trouble a neck back in fourth.

“We got very lucky when the 5 missed the break,” winning trainer Adam Kitchingman said, referring to Ciao Bella Luna. “That was the other speed in the race. Our filly was very gutsy on the front end.”

Tribal Spy, a 4-year-old filly by Tribal Rule, finished third behind Ciao Bella Luna in the Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Turf Sprint on Jan. 25 in her last start. Kitchingman said he “yelled” at Orozco “last time for not being on the lead.”

The victory was the fifth in 14 starts for Tribal Spy, who was claimed for $50,000 by the Triple B Farms of owner Paul Boghossian in February 2013 from a maiden race. After racing four times for trainer Ben Cecil, Boghossian transferred the Tribal Spy to Kitchingman, for whom she has won three times in six starts. She has finished in the money four times in five starts on the hillside course.

Kitchingman said the Grade 3, $100,000 Las Cienegas Stakes on the same hillside course April 12 could be next for Tribal Spy.

“She likes the course,” he said.