Neige Blanche Repeats in Santa Barbara

How do you say winner in French?

In the $125,000 Santa Barbara Stakes (G3T) May 14, it’s pronounced Neige Blanche .

Staying within striking distance until the final quarter-mile, jockey Juan Hernandez found an opening to move from being between Carpe Vinum and the rail—and behind favorite Queen Goddess —to secure Neige Blanche’s second win in the Santa Barbara at Santa Anita Park. She stopped the clock at 2:27.55 for the 1 1/2 miles on a turf course rated firm.

“My family loves the distance,” said Hernandez. “You know, she loves running behind horses and that helps her to relax pretty well. Sometimes, when she’s on the outside, in the clear, she tries to run off a little bit. Today, we sat behind the pace and she relaxed well for me. I was just waiting to hit the quarter pole and find a place to run. As soon as we found a hole, she came through, picked it up really nice and we passed the leader.”

Neige Blanche, whose name translates to Snow White, turned in a fairy-tale performance.

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Queen Goddess shot to the front of the field of five older fillies and mares. Under Victor Espinoza, she controlled the pace while posting legitimate fractions for the distance of :23.96, :47.48, 1:12.70, and 1:38.51.

For the first mile, the order didn’t change. Cover Version Carpe Vinum, Neige Blanche, and Queen Ofthe Temple held their positions, allowing Espinoza to set the pace. But then the complexion of the race changed. Cover Version was unable to withstand the building pressure and fell to the back of the field, 19 lengths behind her nearest competitor. Meanwhile, Carpe Vinum could not hold on in third, slipping one spot back. Queen Ofthe Temple was the beneficiary of their weakening, moving up to third.

With Carpe Vinum jockey Abel Cedillo unable to keep Neige Blanche pinned in, the winner gave all that she had upon Hernandez’s asking. With Neige Blanche surging, Queen Goddess could not fend off the challenge in the final furlong.

“You can tell by her demeanor that she really wanted to get it,” Neige Blanche’s trainer Leonard Powell told TVG.

It was a flip of the script after less than two months ago, Queen Goddess defeated Neige Blanche by 1 1/2 lengths in the Santa Anita Stakes (G3T) on the same course March 26 when racing a quarter-mile shorter distance. In that race, Neige Blanche had fallen far behind by 11 1/2 lengths before closing the gap.

“We discussed with the owners and Juan before the race, we didn’t want the favorite to get away with too much of an advantage like she did last time,” Powell said. “We were about two to three lengths (off the pace) which was perfect.”

Neige Blanche paid $4.80 for a $2 win ticket as the second choice in the wagering.

Neige Blanche and jockey Juan Hernandez, right, outleg Queen Goddess (Victor Espinoza), left, to win the Grade III, $125,000 Santa Barbara Stakes, Saturday, May 14, 2022 at Santa Anita Park, Arcadia CA.<br /> &#169 ;  BENOIT PHOTO” src=”” style=”border-width: 0px;” title=”Neige Blanche and jockey Juan Hernandez, right, outleg Queen Goddess (Victor Espinoza), left, to win the Grade III, $125,000 Santa Barbara Stakes, Saturday, May 14, 2022 at Santa Anita Park, Arcadia CA.<br /> &#169 ;  BENOIT PHOTO”/><figcaption><small>Photo: Benoit Photo</small></p>
<p>The winning connections with Neige Blanche enjoy the Santa Barbara trophy presentation</p>
<p>Owned in partnership by Madaket Stables, Laura De Seroux, Marsha Naify, and Mathilde Powell, Neige Blanche, now 3-for-3 at 1 1/2 miles on turf, notched her fifth graded stakes win, which includes a group 3 win in her native France.  With the $75,000 winner’s share of the purse, she increased her career earnings to $485,080, accomplished with an 8-0-4 record from 18 starts.</p>
<p>Bred in France by Ecurie du Sud, Neige Blanche is by <span class=Anodin and produced from the winning Bianca Neve by Muhtathir . She is the sole stakes winner out of Bianca Neve, the dam of six winners from eight to race.

Video: Santa Barbara S. (G3T)


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