May 30, 2016
Source: TDN

Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners’ Illuminant (Quality Road) pounced to the lead at the top of the stretch and came home an authoritative victoress of the GI Gamely S. at Santa Anita Monday. The 4-year-old filly, sent off at 5-1, shadowed pacesetting Fanticola (Silent Name {Jpn}) while under a snug hold behind moderate fractions of :24.00 and :48.04. She overhauled the pacesetter without being asked on the turn, took charge at the top of the stretch and kicked clear in the final sixteenth to earn the first stakes win of her career over 4-5 favorite Wekeela (Ire) (Hurricane Run {Ire}), who closed belately for second. The win gave trainer Michael McCarthy his first Grade I victory.

Eclipse Thoroughbred’s Aron Wellman was quick to give credit for the victory to McCarthy, a former assistant to Todd Pletcher.

“This filly is high maintenance and [McCarthy]’s done a great job,” Wellman said. “She ran her heart out last time at Keeneland [when third behind champion Tepin in the GI Jenny Wiley S.]. Winning big races like this at Santa Anita and other tracks around the country is what it’s all about. Without our partners we wouldn’t be able to do this.”

Illuminant’s stellar effort was no surprise to McCarthy.

“It’s pretty exciting to win a race like this,” McCarthy said. “I thought she would run well today. She’s a very honest filly, tries hard and I thought the mile and an eighth would be right up her alley.”

Illuminant broke her maiden over Santa Anita’s downhill turf course last October. She stretched out to 1 1/16 miles to take a Del Mar optional claimer in November before fourth-place efforts in the Jan. 3 downhill GII Monrovia S. and the Jan. 16 main-track GII La Canada S. Returned to the lawn, Illuminant took a Santa Anita optional claimer Mar. 10 before running third behind champion Tepin (Bernstein) and Wekeela in the Apr. 16 GI Jenny Wiley S. at Keeneland last time out.

Winning rider Flavien Prat thinks his mount moved forward from her effort at Keeneland.

“I think she improved off her Jenny Wiley third-place finish in her last out,” Prat said. “The turf is a bit softer here and that’s maybe better for her, especially going a mile and an eighth. And here at Santa Anita I feel it’s better if you’re closer to the lead. At Keeneland, it’s a bigger turf course and when you come from off the pace there, it’s easier. We work every day to win a race like this, so I’ll really enjoy it and have to thank Michael McCarthy and all the connections.”

Multiple stakes winner Sparkling Number produced a half-sister to Illuminant by Great Notion last year.

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