Fog City Stable's favored Spring Meadow held off fast-closing Brisquette by a head to win Saturday's $125,000 Las Flores Handicap (gr. III) for older fillies and mares at Santa Anita.
Spring Meadow, a 4-year-old filly by Meadowlake ridden by Corey Nakatani and trained by Bob Hess Jr., completed the six-furlong event in 1:10 1/5. September Secret and Wild Tickle, a length behind the first two, finished in a dead heat for third place.
Making her first start since Dec. 28, Spring Meadow was near the rear of the seven-horse field as Shameful, September Secret and Secret Liaison engaged in an all-out fight for the early lead through fast fractions of :21 1/5 and :43 4/5. On the turn, Nakatani angled the chestnut filly toward the outside and moved to challenge form the lead.
She was well clear in the stretch as the leaders tired, but was extended in the final yards to win at the wire over Brisquette, who came from far back under jockey Alex Solis.
"She's a special filly," said Nakatani, who won three races Saturday. "I got out of her way and let her run her race."
"I thought she'd get a little tired at the end because of the layoff," added the jockey, who won the Las Flores for the fourth time and second year in a row.
"I got on her a lot when she was a 2-year-old and I'm glad to get the chance to ride her again."
Nakatani last rode Spring Meadow in the Las Virgenes Stakes Feb. 12, 2002, finishing fifth. The filly had raced 11 times before they were reunited
Nakatani won the 2002 Las Flores on Above Perfection. He also won the race in 1996 with Igotrhythm and the 1994 running with Mamselle Bebette.
His other victories Saturday came with Groom On the Run ($3.80) in the first race and Helms Deep ($24.40) in the seventh race.
Spring Meadow was second to got Koko in the La Brea (gr. I) in her last start. Last summer she was second to Carson Hollow in the Prioress (gr. I) at Belmont and third to You and Carson Hollow in the Test (gr. I) at Saratoga.
The win snapped a six-race losing streak for Spring Meadow, who now has four victories, four seconds and a pair of thirds in 14 career starts. Worth $75,000 to owners Willim Bianco and David Shimmon, the victory pushed the filly's career bankroll to $367,421.
A $200,000 Ocala Breeders's Sale purchase in April 2001, Spring Meadow, out of the Mr. Prospector mare, Go for It Lady, was bred in Kentucky by John T.L. Jones Jr. and Ashford Stud.
Sent off as the 5-2 favorite in the field of seven, the winner paid $7.20, $4 and $2.60. Brisquette returned $6.20 and $3.60. September Secret, ridden by Patrick Valenzuela, paid $2.60, and Wild Tickle, with Laffit Pincay Jr., aboard, returned $3.40 as the show horses. The $2 exacta was worth $47.60.