01/16/2016 7:51PM

Taris makes decision to run in La Canada look good

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Benoit & Associates
Taris, ridden by Gary Stevens, wins for the first time beyond a mile in the La Canada.

ARCADIA, Calif. - Taris won for the first time beyond a mile in Saturday’s $196,250 La Canada Stakes for fillies and mares at Santa Anita, a race trainer Simon Callaghan considered passing in the hours before post time.

After morning workouts, Callaghan said he was concerned the track was slow and that Taris would struggle in the conditions. After the races began at 12:30 p.m., he conferred with Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens and went forward with the decision to run Taris. The La Canada Stakes was run at 3:43 p.m.

“It seemed slow” in the morning, Callaghan said. “The times across the board were slow. I might have been overthinking it. I watched the races and had a chat with Gary. He said they were getting through it fine.”

Taris ($4) had no difficulty in winning the Grade 2 La Canada Stakes at 1 1/16 miles. Taris was third for the first six furlongs, took the lead in early stretch, and pulled away to win by 5 1/4 lengths over 7-2 Birdatthewire, the winner of the Grade 1 La Brea Stakes for 3-year-old fillies last month.

Yahilwa (9-5) finished third after leading on the turn, and was followed by Illuminant. Oscar Party, a 36-1 outsider, was pulled up in early stretch after a rein broke on the first turn, leaving jockey Santiago Gonzalez struggling to maintain balance and control before an outrider came to his aid in the stretch.

Oscar Party will not start again. Trainer Jim Cassidy said she has been retired and will be bred to Tapit. The decision was reached before Oscar Party was pulled up in the La Canada, he said.

Jockey Drayden Van Dyke, who rode Birdatthewire, said the incident with Oscar Party early in the race affected his mount, who became rank, he said. Birdatthewire raced wide throughout.

The field was reduced from seven entrants to five runners after Honey Ride and Tara’s Tango were withdrawn early Saturday.

Taris stalked early leader Illuminant through fractions of 23.93 seconds for the opening quarter-mile and 47.35 for a half-mile. Stevens had Taris off the rail early and three wide on the turn before taking the lead.

“I had a perfect trip,” Stevens said. “I sat on her early and the fractions were realistic. “The pressure picked up pretty far out. She felt like she’d go long and she did it today.”

Taris, a 5-year-old mare by Flatter, races for Michael Tabor, Derrick Smith, and John Magnier. She was purchased for $2.35 million at the 2014 Keeneland November breeding sale and has since won three of six starts.

Taris won the Grade 3 Go for Wand Handicap at a mile around one turn at Aqueduct on Nov. 27, which led to the start in the La Canada. Taris had one previous start in her career at 1 1/16 miles, finishing sixth in the Grade 3 Honeybee Stakes at Oaklawn Park in March 2014 when trained by Todd Beattie.

“It was nice to do it,” Callaghan said of Saturday’s win. “I knew there was no concern about the distance. Todd Beattie has told me she’d stretch out.”

Taris has won 7 of 11 starts and earned $807,700. Callaghan indicated Taris will make her next start in the $500,000 Santa Margarita Invitational at 1 1/8 miles on March 19.