Fair Maiden, a 2019 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf runner, switched this year to the main track. The move paid off handsomely for the Godolphin homebred, who upset Saturday’s Grade 1, $300,000 La Brea Stakes at 20-1 odds.
Eoin Harty trains the Street Boss filly, who beat nine other 3-year-old female runners in the seven-furlong sprint. Fair Maiden covered that distance in 1:22.69 over the Santa Anita dirt for a win that returned $43.20.
Fair Maiden was a turf stakes winner in 2019 at Woodbine and finished her year with a 12th-place effort at Santa Anita in the Breeders’ Cup. She then did not reappear in the starting gates until September, when taking a six-furlong dirt sprint against allowance company at Churchill Downs.
“It was a big question of whether she’d handle the dirt, and she did,” Harty said. “She was super professional (at Churchill) and it gave me a lot of confidence to bring her out here for a race like this.”
Harty sent the filly west for the La Brea off a fourth-place effort last month in a stakes race on the Breeders’ Cup undercard. Fellow shipper Finite garnered 2-1 favoritism for trainer Steve Asmussen, while 7-2 second choice Merneith highlighted a quartet for conditioner Bob Baffert.
Fair Maiden drew the services of jockey Ricardo Gonzalez, a former Northern California rider still new to the Southern California scene. Gonzalez kept his mount mid-pack Saturday while Biddy Duke went through opening panels of 21.88 and 44.59.
One of the Baffert fillies, Golden Principal, moved forward off the turn to assume the lead. Meanwhile, Fair Maiden was picking up steam in the middle of the track, moving by Secret Keeper, Merneith and Biddy Duke.
Fair Maiden took aim at Golden Principal and quickly put her away, flying on to score by 2 1/4 lengths. Golden Principal maintained second at 12-1 odds – juicing a $1 exacta that returned $247.40 – while Merneith held on for third ahead of fourth-place Finite.
For Gonzalez, Fair Maiden’s upset of the La Brea marked the first Grade 1 triumph of his career.
“I was just so happy and excited,” Gonzalez said. “To be able to ride these kinds of horses, it feels great. I’m very thankful to Eoin and all the trainers for the opportunities.”
Harty enjoyed his first Grade 1 win Saturday since 2010, when Victor’s Cry took Santa Anita’s Shoemaker Mile.