Lilacs And Lace Upsets Cathy’s Crunches At GGF

Lilacs And Lace Upsets Cathy’s Crunches At GGF

     Lilacs and Lace surged late to score a surprising victory over 1-to-2 favorite Cathy’s Crunches in the $100,000 California Oaks at Golden Gate Fields Saturday.  

     Cathy’s Crunches appeared to be headed to her fourth straight stakes win at Golden Gate Fields when she entered the stretch with a comfortable two-length advantage under jockey Chad Schvaneveldt.  Lilacs and Lace, ridden by Russell Baze, refused to give up and shocked both Baze and Schvaneveldt when she ran by Cathy’s Crunches in the final yards for a 1 1/2-length victory.

     “The way the leader was cruising I didn’t think there was any way we could run her down,” said Baze.  “She put two lengths on us at the top of the stretch and I thought I was riding for second money.  I let my filly drift out a little bit in midstretch and then she really kicked it in.  She ran great because the leader finished strong.”

     “I had everything my own way (on the lead) and she laid her body down when I asked her in the stretch,” said Schvaneveldt.  “I couldn’t believe the other filly ran us down, and she went by us pretty easy.  I have no excuses.  My filly ran her ass off.”

     Lilacs and Lace, who was beaten a half-length by Cathy’s Crunches when she dead-heated for second in the one-mile Corte Madera Stakes on Dec. 4, won the 1 1/16-mile
California Oaks in 1:46.32.  Lilacs and Lace paid $6.80.

     Trained by Duane Offield and owned in partnership by Judy Hicks and Kathryn Nikkel, Lilacs and Lace earned $60,000 for her first stakes win.  

     The victory in the California Oaks keeps Lilacs and Lace eligible for a potential $2.2 million payday in the “Black-Eyed Susan 2.2” bonus program.  In order to win the bonus, Lilacs and Lace has to win three more races – the Santa Anita Oaks on March 5, the Gulfstream Park Oaks on April 2, and the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes at Pimlico Race Course on May 21.

     The “Black-Eyed Susan 2.2” bonus was created by Golden Gate Fields’ parent company, MI Developments, Inc., which also owns Santa Anita, Gulfstream Park, and Pimlico.

     “The bonus is an incentive,” said Offield.  “We might try (the Santa Anita Oaks) and see what happens.”

     The California Oaks was marred by a catastrophic injury to Game to Run, who was pulled up approaching the far turn.  California Horse Racing Board veterinarian Dr. Forrest Franklin reported that Game to Run sustained a condylar fracture of her right front cannon bone and was euthanized.