Sugar Shake Registers Sweet Santa Maria Win

Sugar Shake Registers Sweet Santa Maria Win
Photo: Benoit
Jockey David Flores pats Sugar Shake on the way to the winner's circle after victory in the Santa Maria Handicap.
(from Santa Anita report)
Stronach Stables' 4-year-old filly Sugar Shake provided 65-year-old trainer Bobby Frankel with his first victory in the $250,000 Santa Maria Handicap (gr. I) {VIDEO} for older fillies and mares Saturday with a sharp front-running victory at Santa Anita.

Jockey David Flores promptly sent Sugar Shake to the lead. They resisted a stretch challenge from favored Ermine to prevail by 1 3/4 lengths while negotiating the 1 1/16-mile distance in 1:43.89. Frankel moved to within eight of Charlie Whittingham's all-time record for victories at Santa Anita of 869.

It was the third straight win for the homebred Awesome Again  filly and the sixth stakes win at the meet for Frankel among his total of 10 victories. Sugar Shake registered a one-length win in the 1 1/16-mile El Encino (gr. II), her first stakes win, in her last start on Jan. 14.

Second choice in the Santa Maria wagering, Sugar Shake paid $8.40, $3.80 and $3.40. The eastern invader Ermine, ridden by Florida-based Eddie Castro, paid $3.80 and $3 as the 2-1 favorite. Rahys’ Appeal, who finished three-quarters of a length back in third with Aaron Gryder aboard, paid $3.80 to show.

Frankel also had entered Sugar Shake in Sunday’s $200,000 La Canada Stakes, a grade II at 1 1/8 miles, but opted for the richer Santa Maria, he said, because of the weights. “She would have had to carry 123 pounds in the La Canada,” he noted. Sugar Shake carried 115 on Saturday.

The race developed into a match between the two favorites with Sugar Shake maintaining the advantage through tepid fractions of :24, :48 2/5 and 1:12 2/5.

“The first half mile, it looked like we got away pretty easy,” said Flores. “When (Ermine) came to her, she just re-broke. I had to work a little bit on her, but she was going so easy. She wouldn’t let the other filly go by.”

Kentucky-based trainer Ronny Werner, who saddled his first Santa Anita starter with Ermine, said, “It was hard to get by Sugar Shake, but I felt my filly ran an alright race. She’ll probably stay here and go in the Santa Margarita (gr. I).”

Frankel is also considering the $300,000 Santa Margarita at 1 1/8 miles on March 10 for Sugar Shake. The Santa Margarita happens to be one of the few other stakes races at Santa Anita that Frankel has never won.

With her Santa Maria victory, Sugar Shake earned $150,000 to push her career total to $358,256 from a record of 5-2-3 in 11 starts.

Freakin Streakin ran an uneven fourth, followed by Seafree, River Savage, Dona Amelia and Political Web.

(Chart, Equibase)

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