04/04/2015 7:03PM

Spirit of Xian wires field for first stakes win in Providencia

Benoit & Associates
Spirit of Xian and jockey Joe Talamo score a neck win in the Providencia Stakes.

ARCADIA, Calif. – It’s only the first of April, and Spirit of Xian already has had an eventful year at Santa Anita. She was third in her American debut in the Sweet Life Stakes in February and missed the China Doll Stakes after she flipped in the gate moments before the March 7 race.

The incident was well behind her when she won Saturday’s $150,000 Providencia Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/8 miles on turf. Ridden by Joe Talamo, Spirit of Xian ($35.60) led throughout the Grade 3 race to win the first stakes and third race of her 10-race career.

She won twice in England last year before joining trainer Richard Mandella’s stable over the winter.

Mandella said Spirit of Xian underwent extensive gate practice through March to overcome memory of the incident March 7, which he said was triggered by another runner who became upset in the gate.

“She was pretty jittery at the gate,” Mandella said. “We schooled her a lot, and she settled enough to learn her lesson.”

There were no such difficulties Saturday.

Spirit of Xian led by a length through the first mile. She held an advantage of 1 1/2 lengths with a furlong to go and was tested to the wire by the 7-1 Spanish Queen, winning by a neck. Spanish Queen finished a half-length clear of Entrechat, the 8-5 favorite.

Prize Exhibit was fourth, followed by Havanna Belle, Lady Zuzu, Miss Boom Boom, Lutine Belle, Ol’ Fashion Gal, Jaded Glory, Sister of Mercy, and Frosty Friday.

Spanish Queen and Entrechat had their stakes debuts in the Providencia. Both won maiden races in their preceding starts before Saturday.

Spirit of Xian, an Irish-bred by the Danehill stallion Kodiac, has earned $134,068. She races for Ben Keswick.

In England last year, Spirit of Xian won a maiden race at Newmarket in April and an allowance race at Chester in August.  She ran in five stakes in Europe last year, with her best finish in those races a fourth in the Coolmore Stud Sprint Stakes at Naas, Ireland, last June.