Sacramento, CA — After facing some tough company in the Open ranks, Royal Mistress got some class relief last week and responded with a solid victory for James Kennedy. She’s back with the Open group on Friday night (Feb. 7) at Cal Expo.
The 6-year-old Canadian import is owned by Kevin Anderson, hails from the Gordie Graham barn and was winning for the third time in the five appearances since she joined forces with Kennedy.
“She’s got a big heart and a real good finish,” Kennedy related when asked about the mare. “I really appreciate Gordie giving me so many live drives.”
The first two teamings with Royal Mistress resulted in victories in conditioned company, then she stepped up to the Open ranks for her next two starts and had to settle for minor awards behind divisional leaders Alwaysalittlemore and Virgin Eyes.
“Those are a couple of real nice mares and she did have some poor cover the first time she raced at that level,” her pilot noted.
Returning to conditioned competition for last week’s assignment, Royal Mistress was dispatched as the 9-5 choice and left little doubt, coming first over on the backside and going on to a clear-cut decision.
“It really wasn’t the plan to come out that soon, but the leader really backed up the pace and I didn’t have much choice,” Kennedy said. “She was awfully strong that night and just kept going.”
Alwaysalittlemore, Virgin Eyes do battle
Alwaysalittlemore, who is seeking her third straight victory, and Virgin Eyes, who has been her most immediate victim in those last two outings, head the cast for Friday night’s featured $5,600 Filly and Mare Open Pace.
There will be 12 races presented under the Watch and Wager LLC banner with first post set for 6:10 p.m. There will also be a trio of California Sire Stakes for 4-year-olds to be decided as non-betting races prior to the regular card.
Alwaysalittlemore is a 6-year-old daughter of Always A Virgin who races for Maria Alvarez and Terrence Smith, takes her lessons from Edward Hernandez and will once again have Luke Plano at the helm.
The bay mare went a lifetime-best 1:52.3 mile when taking the measure of an Open II field on Jan. 18, then came back last week and made every pole a winning one in the Open, holding safe by a half-length over Virgin Eyes.
The latter is a dark-hued 5-year-old mare who carries the banner of Aleksandra Karl with Jacob Fox doing the driving and training. She has been runner-up in her last three appearances, completing the exacta behind Alwaysalittlemore in the last pair.
Completing the cast are Brighten Your Life with James Marshall IV; Dancingonthesand, Mooney Svendsen; Royal Mistress, James Kennedy; and Exsqueezeme, who leave from the cozy rail slot with Nick Roland.