Stonestreet Stable’s Tara’s Tango earned her first career Grade I score in impressive come-from-behind fashion in Saturday’s $500,000 Santa Margarita Stakes (GI) at Santa Anita Park. In doing so, the four-year-old daughter of Unbridled’s Song joined an impressive list of winners in the 1 1/8-mile test that includes some of the biggest names in racing history, including Zenyatta, Fairy Chant, Busher, Two Lea, Bed O’Roses, Silver Spoon, Gamely, Gallant Bloom, Turkish Trousers, Susan’s Girl, Glorious Song, Lady’s Secret, Bayakoa, Paseana, Jewel Princess, Azeri and Adoration.
Equipped with blinkers for the first time, Tara’s Tango, under jockey Rafael Bejarano, was content to sit at the back of the pack in the early going, comfortably allowing shipper Penwith to set all the early pace in splits of :23.69, :46.85 and 1:13.32 and waiting patiently to make her move.
Taris, who was the 4-5 post time favorite, stalked the leader in the early going and looked to be the winner as she took command before the field turned for home, but Tara’s Tango was at full throttle and closing strongly on the outside, gaining ground on Taris with every stride. Though Taris had reached the front in time to set the one-mile split in 1:38, her advantage didn’t last long as Tara’s Tango quickly drew abreast of the favorite in mid-stretch.
Tara’s Tango took command deep in the lane and continued on gamely to the wire in front, stopping the clock in 1:50.44 for the nine furlongs over a fast main track.
“The blinkers made a big difference today, they helped me a lot from the gate,” Bejarano said. “I was able to put my horse into position right away. I waited for the opportunity and when we got to the stretch, she gave me a big turn of foot and I knew I could beat the favorite.”
Tara’s Tango, who is trained by Hall of Famer Jerry Hollendorfer, is out of the French Deputy mare Scarlet Tango and is a half-sister to Grade I winner Visionarie and grade 3 winner Scarlet Strike. With the $300,000 winner’s share of the Santa Margarita purse, Tara’s Tango now boasts a bankroll of $618,004 and a career line of 10-4-3-1. She also captured the Santa Maria Stakes (GII) in her last start.
“It was an exciting race and I’m very proud to get the Grade I for the owner [Stonestreet Stables],” Hollendorfer said. “She got a good trip and showed a lot of heart running down the favorite.”