angle-left Mildred Vessels Memorial Handicap

Mildred Vessels Memorial Handicap

Tequila Sangria wins Sunday's Grade 1, $125,000 feature at Los Alamitos.
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Making just her third start of her 3-year-old campaign, Steve Burns’ Tequila Sangria won Sunday's 400-yard, $125,000 Mildred Vessels Memorial Handicap (G1) at Los Alamitos.

Ridden by Jesus Rios Ayala for trainer Mike Casselman, Tequila Sangria defeated As And Js by a nose in :19.716. The homebred gray daughter of Favorite Cartel earned the $62,500 winner's share of the purse, and a berth in the December 14, $600,000 Champion of Champions (G1).

Tequila Sangria became the first 3-year-old filly to win the Mildred Vessels since champion Flame N Flash in 2012. The filly accomplished the victory despite lugging out badly 100 yards into the race.

“I thought she'd won, but then at the very last second I saw that inside horse (As And Js) and I thought, ‘Well, maybe not,’ ” said Jo Rae Burns, wife of Steve Burns. “You should have heard me yell when they showed the replay. It was really exciting. We had Militarist in the (2016) Champion of Champions. We had partners on that one. Having this one will be special.”

Tequila Sangria was making her first start since July 12, when the filly scored a victory in the Big Lew Handicap. Six weeks ago, she was scratched from a 400-yard Golden State Derby (G2) trial after acting up in the gate.

"She was trying to do everything right in the (Golden State) derby trials," said Casselman. "The horse next to her broke through the gate and she just went as hard as she could go. She hit the front and it didn’t open. She had a tough night that night. We decided to wait and try something different and it’s worked out for us.

“We’re ecstatic about it,” the trainer added, referring to Tequila Sangria's Mildred Vessels win. “We ran her in the Big Lew against some very nice horses and she had the rail. She proved that night that she had a little class. We thought we would give it a whirl. We had high hopes for her and I’m glad that she pulled through.”

Raced exclusively at Los Alamitos, Tequila Sangria has won four of six starts, including all three of her outs this season, and she has earned $101,010.

Suze Returns,  Tough To Figure, Matilda Czech, Thermonuclear Energy, Madam Of Fire MV, Strawfinders Jessee, Fenian Faith, and La Rusa completed the order of finish. 

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