Maybe Constellation should have moved out west earlier. A previous two-time stakes winner for trainer Steve Asmussen in New York, the Bellamy Road filly made the move out west and promptly won her first west coast race in the form of the City of Phoenix Stakes on November 12 at Turf Paradise. She did one better on December 26, winning the La Brea Stakes (gr. I) at Santa Anita Park at 12-1 odds.
Constellation, was in stalking position behind co-favorite Finley’sluckycharm (9-5 odds) for most of the seven-furlong race. However, after digging in, Constellation made a move on the outside to glide by her and win by a half-length under jockey Flavien Prat in a time of 1:21.83.
“She is a really fine filly,” said Prat. “She broke well, but I couldn’t take hold of her. She just wouldn’t relax. When we got to the three-eighths pole, she finally relaxed and she did everything to get there for the win.”
Finley’sluckycharm was the co-favorite for a reason, as she came into the race having won three in a row. She set early fractions of :22.24, :44.58, and 1:09.05 through the first six furlongs and was looking like a good bet to cross the finish line in first.
“I thought she ran great,” said Finley’sluckycharm’s trainer Bret Calhoun. “I thought she had a great trip. We knew the pace was going to be pretty hot and she handled it pretty well. She handled the seven-eighths well and that was maybe a question mark.”
The win for Constellation paid $27. “That race kind of unfolded the way we thought it would,” said Constellation’s trainer Jerry Hollendorfer. “I think Flavien was a little lucky to get through between horses, and that was the key to winning the race.”
The win was Constellation’s first graded stakes win. In eight career he starts she has a record of 5-1-1 and has earned close to $480,000.