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Always a Princess upsets Blind Luck in the El Encino

Blind Luck was denied a victory in her first start of 2011 as Always a Princess ran a huge race to defeat the likely champion three-year-old filly by 3 1/2 lengths in the Grade 3 El Encino at Santa Anita Park.

Along with the upset in the El Encino it was another day of impressive number lighting up the Santa Anita track timer.  Did  maintenance officials put a layer of concrete underneath the new dirt surface this winter?  Anybody following the racing these past few weeks has witnessed a parade of brutally fast times but today it seemed like it was just out of control.  Take a look below at today's splits for each race along with the class level:

Race #

Class

1/4

1/2

3/4

Final

Race 1

25k Claim

23.12

46.25

1:10.12

1:35.78

Race 2

OC/50k

21.80

44.36

1:08.50

Race 4

MSW

21.67

43.76

1:07.91

1:14.42

Race 5

40k Claim

21.75

44.48

1:09.31

Race 6

12.5k Claim

22.91

46.91

1:11.51

1:37.91

Race 8

G2 El Encino

22.38

45.41

1:08.72

1:41.47

Race 9

20k MdClm

21.73

44.77

1:03.44

The last race of the day, a 20k Maiden Claimer, saw a 21.73 opening quarter and a sub :45 half, scorching fractions for horses that cheap.  And the horse that set those fractions, a 9/1 shot named Our Last Monte, held on to finish 2nd by ¾ of a length.  The fourth race saw Maiden Specials put up a sub :44 half mile in another ridiculous display of speed.  In the El Encino, winner Always a Princess was heavily involved in the blistering early pace yet she pulled away from the field to win comfortably.  A mile and a sixteenth race where the leaders go sub 1:09 and still have enough to put away the field?  

I'm curious to see how some of these horses that have set these insane pace scenarios respond when they come back for their next start.

Blind Luck, using her traditional stone cold closing style, ran a 23.67 opening quarter but only came home in 31.78, according to the Formulator interactive charts.  She got the set-up that she needed but didn't have the finishing kick to get it done and lost by an easy 3 ½ lengths.

The El Encino, I think, is a good example of how hard it is to consistently win horse races, especially when you're a filly like Blind Luck that employs a deep-closing running style.  Blind Luck is obviously a quality filly, but on more than one occasion she has come up short by failing to make up the necessary ground in the final couple of furlongs.  Today's defeat, however, seemed to be more than just a matter of having too much ground to make up; the 31.78 final fraction (when you consider the incredibly fast fractions at Santa Anita the last few weeks) suggests that Blind Luck just wasn't on her game.  Furthermore, the field in the El Encino was nothing spectacular; Champagne d'Oro and Always a Princess are a quality fillies but the scratch of three others left the race pretty light in terms of class.  But even with those advantages the daughter of Pollard's Vision just couldn't get it done.  Blind Luck consistently runs good races, but not always winning ones.