Madaket Stables and Michael Dubb’s French-bred Ouraika collected her first North American win with a determined head victory in the $102,500 Sweet Life Stakes (G3T) Feb. 12 at Santa Anita Park. In a field of 10 sophomore fillies, Ouraika saved ground with an inside trip from jockey Juan Hernandez and edged Urban to win at about 6 1/2 furlongs on the downhill turf course.
Ouraika broke from post 2 and the Zelzal daughter raced in fifth along the rail down the hill as Baby Steps showed the way through fractions of :22.21 and :44.68. Ouraika angled out when crossing the dirt to the main turf course, then split horses as she hit the front and returned to the inside lane. Urban was rallying down the middle of the track and closed in on the lead, but Ouraika dug in to hit the wire first. Final time on the firm course was 1:13.98.
Urban finished 1 1/2 lengths in front of 9-5 favorite Kitty Kitana .
The winner, who shipped to Southern California from trainer Graham Motion’s Fair Hill Training Center stable in Maryland, paid $11.40 on a $2 win ticket.
“I learned a lot, but she’s a really intelligent filly. She did everything by herself,” Hernandez said. “In the warmup I took her by herself, and she was doing everything really good.
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“Today she broke really sharp. She’s a really professional filly. I just broke out of there and she was really sharp, I was in a really good position. I was waiting for some room to open up to come through. When we crossed the dirt, some room opened inside and we just came through.
“I saw the number 9 (Urban) to my outside in the middle of the track and after the wire I said, ‘It was pretty close but I think I got it.’ And when I came around I saw my number and it was really fun.
“She was really professional and just did everything by herself. I was just having fun on top of her. I’d like to thank Graham Motion and the owners for this big opportunity; she’s a really nice filly, thanks a lot.”
Motion’s assistant Alice Clapham was at Santa Anita to saddle Ouraika.
“She settled really nicely and she handled it really well. Juan said she did everything he wanted and when she came across the dirt, he was going to go out, and then the rail opened, so he snuck through there,” Clapham said. “Graham spoke with me this morning and said, ‘She’s pretty uncomplicated, so leave it up to (Juan), let her settle, and then go from there.'”
“She’ll go back home and then we’ll sort out where they want to go with her. We came out here to try the sprint and down the hill to see how she would handle it. So this opens up a few options for us.”
Bred and originally campaigned in France by Khalifa Mohammed Al Attiyah, Ouraika was produced from the Dansili mari Sleek Gold . She is a half sister to stakes-placed winners Simplicity and Complication . Her dam’s most recent foal is a Toronado colt.
Ouraika won once in three starts in France before moving to the United States last fall. She has a record of 2-2-0 in six starts and earnings of $100,019.
Video: Sweet Life S. (G3T)