Decked Out flew home late and caught front-running Sassy Little Lila by the slimmest of margins in the $300,000, Grade 1 American Oaks on Saturday at Santa Anita Park, a day that saw a dead heat for the win in the Grade 3 Midnight Lute Stakes earlier on the card.
The result was a one-two punch for Sol Kumin, whose Head of Plains Partners owns Decked Out with Big Chief Racing and Gene Voss. Kumin also owns Sassy Little Lila in partnership through Sheep Pond Partners with Michael J. Ryan.
Decked Out rebounded from a 12th-place finish in the Grade 1 Rodeo Drive Stakes, and the 3-year-old daughter of Street Boss came in fresh to get her sought-after Grade 1 victory on turf rated as good.
The American Oaks was cut back to 1 1/8 miles from its original 1 1/4-mile distance to prevent runners from having to charge down the Santa Anita hillside turf course and across the dirt main track on a rainy day in Southern California.
Sassy Little Lila showed the way early, putting up quarter-mile fractions of :22.68 and :47.03. The Brad Cox trainee went through three-quarters in 1:10.70 and still held her advantage heading for home through a 1:35.08 mile, while Decked Out still had five horses to catch after a big move around the final turn.
“She looked tired, she looked like she was starting to labor, and I’m surprised she continued on,” trainer Keith Desormeaux said.
Jockey Kent Desormeaux kept his mount to the task, and Decked Out responded with a final-strides surge that was just enough, completing the distance in 1:47.86.
“She showed her heart. I had no idea who won the photo,” Keith Desormeaux said.
Decked Out began her career with seven starts on dirt, and showed early talent sprinting with placings in the Astoria and Grade 3 Schuylerville Stakes. She tailed off toward the end of her 2-year-old season, however, and transitioned to turf this February with a third in Santa Anita’s Sweet Life Stakes. Two starts later she picked up her first graded score in the Grade 3 Providencia Stakes on yielding ground.
“I’m sure the handicappers were paying attention; when she won the Providencia it was soft ground,” Keith Desormeaux said. “We don’t get that too often here in Southern California. I’m glad it’s raining today.”
Sent off at odds of 9-2, Decked Out returned $11, $6, and $4.20. Sweet Little Lila paid paid $5.80 and $4. Lady Valeur was third and brought $7.20.
Haymarket Farm bred Decked Out in Kentucky out of the stakes-winning Ontario-bred You and I mare Once Around.