Ramona S. Bass’ Wild At Heart was the easy winner of Saturday’s Grade 2 Buena Vista Stakes, galloping under the wire about three lengths in front for jockey Flavien Prat. Originally scheduled for one mile on the turf, local rains in the Santa Anita area forced the race to be run at a mile on the main track, resulting in scratches of the 11-horse field down to just five starters. The 5-year-old Indian Charlie daughter covered that mile in 1:36.48 over a fast main track for trainer Richard Mandella.
“I worked her before her last race and I felt she was much better today,” Prat said. “I was pretty confident going into today.”
Hillhouse High took the lead out of the gate, but was immediately pressured by Lily Pod through solid early fractions of :22.97 and :45.89. Prat, meanwhile, kept Wild At Heart in the perfect stalking position in third, about two lengths off the leaders. Behind her, it was another seven or eight lengths back to Mokat and Jeremy’s Legacy. Rounding the far turn, Lily Pod took a neck’s lead over Hillhouse High as Prat was patiently awaiting the right time on Wild At Heart.
Given the signal, Wild At Heart jumped into the bridle and easily rolled up alongside Lily Pod, just as Hillhouse High dropped back. Lily Pod tried to stay with the eventual winner, but with a slight advantage at the head of the lane Wild At Heart was not going to be stopped, and simply continued to extend her lead down the stretch to win by about three lengths. Lily Pod held second, with Hillhouse High checking in third.
“She impressed me today,” Mandella said. “She’s always tried to be a good mare but just wasn’t quite breaking through.”
Bred in Kentucky by Martin Cherry, Wild At Heart was a $ 450,000 OBS March 2-year-old in training sale purchase. Relatively lightly raced, the mare had come close to earning black type several times, but had come up just short for Mandella. The Buena Vista is her first graded stakes win, and improves her overall record to 3-4-2 from 11 starts, with earnings of over $ 330,000.
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