02/18/2017 7:57PM

Wild At Heart benefits from surface switch, small field in Buena Vista

Barbara D. Livingston
Wild At Heart, ridden by Flavien Prat, wins the off-the-turf Buena Vista.

ARCADIA, Calif. - A change of surface and a small field helped Wild At Heart win the first stakes of her career in Saturday’s Grade 3 Buena Vista Stakes at Santa Anita.

The $200,000 Buena Vista Stakes was scheduled for turf, but switched to the main track early Saturday after several inches of rain fell on Friday and early Saturday. Wild At Heart was graded stakes-placed on dirt in two races last year, but eighth in her only previous start on turf.

In the Buena Vista, Wild At Heart ($5) had an ideal trip under leading jockey Flavien Prat to end a four-race losing streak in the one-mile race. The win erased the disappointment of a fourth-place finish in the Grade 2 La Canada Stakes here on Jan. 14.

“It was an easier field than last time,” Prat said.

Prat had Wild At Heart third in the field of five for the first half-mile, tracking Hillhouse High and Lily Pod who dueled through fractions of 22.97 seconds for the opening quarter-mile and 45.89 for a half-mile.

Wild At Heart took the lead entering the stretch and was not threatened late, leading by 1 1/2 lengths with a furlong to go and by 3 1/2 lengths at the finish.. Lily Pod (7-2) finished second. Wild At Heart was timed in 1:36.58.

“She looked good going into the second turn,” said winning trainer Richard Mandella.

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Hillhouse High finished third, followed by Jeremy’s Legacy and Mokat. Do the Dance, Evo Campo, Illuminant, Juno, Pretty Girl, and Prize Exhibit were scratched after the surface change.

Owned by Ramona Bass, Wild At Heart is a 5-year-old mare by Indian Charlie. Wild At Heart has won 3 of 11 starts and earned $331,305. She was second in the Grade 3 L.A. Woman Stakes for female sprinters here last October and second in the Grade 2 Bayakoa Stakes at Del Mar in December.

“She’s trying to be a good mare, but she wasn’t quite breaking through,” Mandella said. “After the scratches, the race got a bit easier.”