By Bloodhorse.com Cypress, CA (December 8, 2019) – Only three weeks of rest proved inconsequential to Christopher St. Hilaire and Adam Vali’s Queen Bee to You, who closed her season on a high note with her first graded stakes win in the $100,351 Bayakoa Stakes (G3) Dec. 8 at Los Alamitos Race Course.
“We were (worried she was coming back too quick) and she’s probably going to get 60 to 70 days off now,” St. Hilaire said. “She’s earned it, obviously. She’s in such good form right now. We were in that pocket, and we wanted to stay there.”
Entering Sunday’s race off a 4 1/2-length victory in the Nov. 17 Betty Grable Stakes at Del Mar, the 5-year-old California-bred mare looked strong from the break under Ruben Fuentes. Arctic Roll made a quick bid for the lead and was guided to the rail from the far outside. Lady Suebee followed suit in second, just a length behind.
As the half-mile went in :47 flat, Fuentes and Queen Bee to You chased the leaders just off the rail before angling out four wide approaching the far turn. Arctic Roll dueled briefly with Lady Suebee in an attempt to hold her lead but drifted back as the field entered the top of the stretch.
Lady Suebee’s lead was short-lived. Queen Bee to You drove hard down the middle of the track to challenge and was a length in front by midstretch. Urged on by Fuentes, the mare continued to pull away and won by 3 1/2 lengths. The final time for 1 1/16 miles was 1:44.21 over a track rated good (sealed).
“She is very sharp right now,” Fuentes said. “She settled early and relaxed perfectly, and I knew she was loaded when I asked her for run.”
Zusha, who split horses off the second turn in a late-running bid for the front, edged Lady Suebee by a neck for second. Kim K, Mongolian Humor, and Arctic Roll completed the order of finish.
The Bayakoa was the second stakes win for Queen Bee to You at Los Alamitos this season. She defeated males June 29 in the Bertrando Stakes over one mile on the dirt.
“There was a little hesitation running her back, but she came out of the (Betty Grable) so well and we worked her back and she went so spectacularly that we said we have to go for it,” said trainer Andrew Lerner, echoing St. Hilaire’s concerns. “The plan wasn’t to take her back that far, but she kind of missed the break a little bit. I could see she was traveling smoothly, and Ruben always does a fantastic job with her. They’ve done a great job with this track.”
The victory was an especially poignant one for Lerner, as it was the first graded win of his training career.
“It’s a huge accomplishment,” Lerner said. “I’m so grateful for my team. My foreman Isidro (Hernandez) and I started with one horse we claimed (Gunslinger) 2 1/2 years ago, and now we have a stable of 45.”
Bred by Tommy Town Thoroughbreds, Queen Bee to You is a daughter of regional stallion Old Topper. She is the sixth foal out of the Touch Gold mare Silk Queen and the first to earn black type. She made her first four starts on the track for her breeder before being claimed by St. Hilaire in December 2016.
“She’s the best mare by far (we’ve claimed),” said St. Hilaire, who admitted the decision to bring the mare into his stable was somewhat rash at the time. “Candidly, I didn’t know enough. If I had known what I know now, I may not have claimed her. I knew just enough, and she was our second horse. It was $50K, but she looked so strong coming out of that first race. She pulled so hard and she looked so strong but had a bad trip, so we took a shot.
“It doesn’t matter whether it’s dirt or turf, short or long, she just gives it her all every time, and that’s rare to come by.”
Queen Bee to You has a 7-11-5 record from 32 starts and earnings of $538,770.