Ami’s Mesa had a successful night at the 43rd annual Sovereign Awards ceremony, earning champion older female and champion female sprinter honours for her success in 2017, but one can’t help but wonder if she would have earned a third honour had her nose been in front of Bar of Gold’s in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint at Del Mar last November.
Ami’s Mesa was named a finalist for Canadian Horse of the Year, but finished second in the voting to Pink Lloyd. Still, her impact on the night was felt not only in the divisions she won, but in several other divisions where her connections were nominated. Ami’s Mesa’s dam, Victorious Ami, earned a Sovereign Award for outstanding broodmare, while owner Ivan Dalos, breeder Tall Oaks Farm, trainer Josie Carroll, and jockey Luis Contreras were all named finalists in their respective divisions.
Ami’s Mesa’s 2017 campaign began in June at Woodbine, where she returned off a six-month layoff with a three-length victory in an allowance race. That race started a four-race win streak that included victories going both short and long.
Following her allowance win, Ami’s Mesa recorded her first career graded stakes score in the Grade 3 Ontario Matron Stakes over 1 1/16-miles on Tapeta at Woodbine in July, and quickly doubled up in the Grade 3 Seaway Stakes over seven furlongs in August where she earned a 100 Beyer Speed Figure.
From there, Ami’s Mesa made her final two starts away from Woodbine. She traveled to Presque Isle Downs for the Grade 2 Presque Isle Downs Masters Stakes, where she defeated Bar of Gold and broke Groupie Doll’s 6 1/2-furlong track record. Following the Presque Isle Downs Masters Stakes, Ami’s Mesa’s connections were faced with a decision — return home for the Grade 2 Bessarabian Stakes, or proceed to Del Mar for the Breeders’ Cup.
Carroll and Dalos opted to send Ami’s Mesa to the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint at Del Mar to finish off her 2017 campaign, but her task was not an easy one. Ami’s Mesa drew the outside post in a full field of 14 and was listed at 20-1 on the morning line. She broke well under Contreras, and sat in a stalking position along the backstretch. She was five-wide heading into the turn, but made her move, and took control of the race at the top of the stretch. She appeared to be opening up on her competition, but Bar of Gold, who ran second behind Ami’s Mesa at Presque Isle, kept coming, and surged past Ami’s Mesa in the final jumps.
Despite the narrow defeat, the connections were delighted with the result.
“She’s a tremendous filly,” Carroll said following the Breeders’ Cup. “We were so happy with her. She overcame a tough post and gave it everything she had and that’s all you can ask.”
The Breeders’ Cup would mark Ami’s Mesa’s final start of 2017, but she is back in training in 2018. She wintered with Carroll at Palm Meadows Training Center in Florida, and made her first start of the year in the Grade 1 Madison Stakes at Keeneland, where she finished sixth beaten just 1 1/2-lengths.