12/05/2010 8:00PM

Washington Bridge makes it three in row by taking Bayakoa

Washington Bridge, ridden by Rafael Bejarano, earns the first graded stakes victory of her career in the Bayakoa Handicap.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. - A cooler head has given Washington Bridge a three-race winning streak, the latest being her graded stakes debut in Sunday’s $150,000 Bayakoa Handicap at Hollywood Park.

Earlier in her career, Washington Bridge was a nervous filly who did not always perform to expectations, trainer Jerry Hollendorfer said. As her 3-year-old season has continued, she has calmed. The win in the Grade 2 Bayakoa Handicap proved how far she has progressed.

“Sometimes they get confidence and turn around and start doing things right,” said Hollendorfer, who co-owns Washington Bridge with Mark DeDomenico. “This is the third time she’s put it all together. She was really nervous early on and she’s settled down lately.”

In the Bayakoa Handicap, Washington Bridge closed from last in a field of seven with a wide rally to win by 1 3/4 lengths over pacesetter Sister Dawn. On the backstretch, Sister Dawn led by a length and had an advantage of 2 1/2 lengths with a furlong remaining.

Jockey Rafael Bejarano had Washington Bridge racing wide of the trailing pack in the stretch and allowed the filly to showcase her late rally.
“The way that Rafael was riding her, I thought he felt quite confident with what he was doing,” Hollendorfer said. “She has a nice turn of foot.”

Sister Dawn finished a length in front of Zardana, the 2-1 favorite, in the field of seven fillies and mares. Zardana had an unlucky trip, stuck in traffic on the final turn and waiting behind horses in early stretch. She closed well in the final sixteenth to finish third.

“She was bottled up the whole time,” trainer John Shirreffs said.

Washington Bridge ($12) ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.25. A filly by Yankee Gentlemen, Washington Bridge has won 5 of 18 starts and $221,089.

Her only other stakes win was the restricted Life Is Sweet Stakes here on Nov. 12, the second win of the current streak, which began with a win in an allowance race at Golden Gate Fields in October.