Stronach Stables and Allen Brian's Buffythecenterfold ran her undefeated string to three races with a game win over rival Tricks Her by 3/4-length in the $150,000 Sorrento Stakes (gr. II) for 2-year-old fillies at Del Mar Saturday.
Buffythecenterfold has defeated Tricks Her in all three of her victories, with Tricks Her second all three times. The two previous races were each decided by one length.
Trainer Mel Stute saddled the winner. Stute, who celebrated his 75th birthday Thursday, last won the Sorrento in 1986 with Brave Raj, who went on to win the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I).
"This filly is just as good if not better," Stute said. "She'll run in the Debutante and then the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies. I'd like to make a million dollars with her this year."
The winning time for the 6 1/2-furlong test was 1:17.1. The filly, ridden by Matt Garcia, survived a claim of foul from Patrick Valenzuela, who was aboard the runner-up.
"She stacks up with Brave Raj and Very Subtle (a second Stute Breeders' Cup winner)," Stute said. "You can see how she was today. She went to lead and battled all the way."
Stute couldn't resist a jab at Valenzuela. "Pat took off of her to ride the filly that was second. That's three times he's been wrong."
"That incident away from the gate (a bumping incident) cost her the race," Valenzuela said. "I know it wasn't the winner's fault. But she came over on me and banged me into the other horse. My filly was getting bounced between horses and it cost her. She ran great, too. It's unfortunate."
Frank Stronach purchased majority interest in the Kentucky-bred daughter of Capote earlier this week. The $90,000 winner's share doubled uffythecenterfold's earnings to $182,160.
The winner was named for a Playboy centerfold, Miss November 2000, Buffy Tyler, who was part of the entourage in the winner's circle.
Sent off as the 9-5 favorite, she paid $5.80, $3.20, $2.60. Tricks Her, still a maiden after four starts, returned $3.20, $2.60. Indy Groove, trained by Thomas Proctor, made a big move on the turn for home but appeared to balk when she asked to move inside of Tricks Her at the head of the stretch. She recovered to finish third and pay $3.80. The $2 exacta was $14.40.