Winding Way stays perfect in Grade 3 Rancho Bernando H.
Spendthrift Farm homebred Winding Way showed once again how special she is in the $150,000 Rancho Bernando H. (G3), overcoming an awful start, going several paths wide around the turn, and finally surviving a stewards' inquiry into the stretch run to give the 3-year-old daughter of Malibu Moon her first stakes win.
Malibu Moon now has five stakes winners in 2012 and is in the top 10 on the General Sire list, with $4.8 million in progeny earnings. One of the quintet is the 2-year-old filly Kauai Katie, a full sister to Winding Way who won the Grade 2 Adirondack S. at Saratoga.
The lone 3-year-old in the field of seven, Winding Way's trouble started when the gates sprang open for the 6 1/2-furlong test. Seemingly unready for the break, Winding Way dwelt and hopped up, spotting the field at least a half-dozen lengths. Rafael Bejarano showed his usual coolness however, allowing his filly to gather herself for the backstretch run. With the inside bottled up on the turn, Bejarano guided his mount five-wide to begin his assault on the leaders.
She was widest of all coming into the stretch and was still last with a quarter-mile to go. And despite switching leads late in the stretch, Winding Way rolled by her six competitors to hit the wire a half-length winner. The final time was 1:15.93, just a second off the track record.
“I thought we were ready, but when they went, she turned her head sideways and we didn’t go anywhere,” said Bejarano. “But I didn’t want to rush her, so I just let her run away from there. Even though we were way behind, I had a lot of confidence in her. I work her in the mornings and she is strong. She finishes so well. The last time I rode her we went wire-to-wire and won by seven. This time she did it totally different. All the way in the back. She’s special.”
Trainer Carla Gaines was just as impressed as Bejarano. “The last time she ran she was looking at the grandstand (at the break), but she overcame that and a much easier field. She did the same thing today. I was just hoping to hit the board. That’s a massive recovery.
“We were testing her in a graded race to see if she might be a Breeders’ Cup type horse. It looks like she’s getting closer now.”
After breaking her maiden by 4 3/4-lengths June 10 at Hollywood Park, Winding Way came back with an eye-catching 7 1/4-length allowance score at Del Mar a month ago. Her record now stands a perfect 3-for-3 with earnings of $163,800.