09/07/2014 8:07PM

Tribal Gal displays true grit in Orange County


CYPRESS, Calif. – The high-spirited Tribal Gal is becoming a top sprint filly for owner-breeder John Pendergast, trainer Kory Owens, and jockey Rafael Bejarano.

Tribal Gal ($4.60) popped the gate Sunday in the $75,000 Orange County Stakes at Los Alamitos, shook off one pace rival at the quarter pole, turned back another challenge at the head of the lane, and held off another rival in deep stretch to win by a half-length.

The final time of the six-furlong stakes was 1:08.73. It was the eighth win from 19 starts for Tribal Gal, a 4-year-old by Tribal Rule. Maker Or Breaker finished second, a half-length in front of Wild in the Saddle.

Doinghardtimeagain, a Grade 2 winner at Los Alamitos in the summer, has not returned to form. She loomed a threat at the head of the lane, then flattened out and finished fourth.

Tribal Gal touted her energy level in the paddock, kicking and carrying on.  “She’s very high-spirited,” Owens said.

She also is fast.

Bejarano was riding her for the first time, with a simple strategy from the inside post.

“Being on the inside, I wanted to get out of there quickly because I knew we would be getting pressure from the outside and didn’t want to lose position,” Bejarano said. “She was game in the stretch when they came to her.”

Making her first start since winning the $100,000 Oak Tree Distaff in June at Pleasanton, Tribal Gal fought off three challenges. She put away pace rival Tasty Treat, turned back Doinghardtimeagain into the stretch, and held off Maker Or Breaker late.

The Orange County was the first Los Alamitos stakes victory for Bejarano and Owens.

Tribal Gal has earned $301,505 from 19 starts. She could add to the total Oct. 4 at Santa Anita if Owens runs her at Santa Anita in the Grade 3 L.A. Woman Stakes.

Tasty Treat, the stakes-winning mare pulled up at the quarter pole and removed from the track in a horse ambulance, survived the incident. Trainer Mike Pender said Monday she sustained a suspensory injury to her left front. It is not life-threatening.

Based on information provided Sunday by track officials, Daily Racing Form initially reported that she sustained sesamoid injuries and was euthanized. That report was inaccurate.

“She has not been euthanized,” Pender said. “She blew a suspensory. There is no bone involvement. She did not break any sesamoids.”

Tasty Treat, a 5-year-old mare making her comeback from an 11-month layoff, won the 2013 Daisycutter Handicap at Del Mar and seven races and $335,874 from 19 starts. A daughter of Roar, she is owned by Cunningham Ranch.

“She is going to survive,” Pender said. “I know it looked bad. We’ve got the splint on her to treat the suspensory. She is officially retired.”

Racing resumes Thursday at Los Alamitos. First post is 2 p.m. Pacific.