Updated on 09/15/2011 1:37PM

Verruma finds way to win


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - A confident ride from Garrett Gomez put Verruma into the winner's circle of Saturday's $150,000 Dahlia Handicap* (click here for chart), but only after her backers got a thrill watching her weave her way through the Hollywood Park stretch.

Verruma was seventh of eight on the backstretch, and reached contention on the final turn. Gomez had her two-wide entering the stretch and angled to the inside in midstretch, just behind the leaders. Using a quick turn of foot, Verruma rallied to win by a half-length over Vencera.

"I didn't want to move too soon," Gomez said. "I wanted to make sure she had a target. I was going to work my way out, but everybody else was going out, so I figured I could get over to the fence.

"When I showed her that daylight as I was skirting across a couple of horses, she saw it, too. And she just went to hitting gears for me and finished up great.

"It was kind of a zigzag finish, but she actually had a pretty decent trip the whole way."

Verruma ($10.40) finished 1 1/16 miles on a firm turf course in 1:43.24. Heads Will Roll, the 4-5 favorite, closed from last to finish third. She was followed by pacesetter Casa's Kids, Queen of Wilshire, Catz, Apollo's Music, and Be Fair. Kalatiara, Dancingonice, and Favorite Funtime were scratched.

Heads Will Roll was in striking range at the top of the stretch, but could not make up the difference, losing by two lengths.

The Grade 2 Dahlia was Verruma's first win for Sonia and Carolyn Chapman and Stuart Tsujimoto and trainer James Chapman. Bred in Brazil, Verruma was ninth in the Matriarch Stakes on Nov. 25, her first start for the Chapmans and Tsujimoto.

A Group 1 winner in Brazil in 1999, Verruma was purchased last month for $325,000 at the Keeneland November Breeding Stock Sale following a victory in the Grade 3 Athenia Handicap at Belmont Park on Oct. 26.

James Chapman said Verruma may return for the $100,000 Monrovia Handicap over about 6 1/2 furlongs on grass at Santa Anita on Dec. 31.

Dahlia Handicap Chart*

* Requires Adobe Acrobat Reader.