Passed by Memorette in upper stretch, odds-on favorite Sharp Lisa refused to give in, coming back powerfully in the final sixteenth of a mile to tally a three-quarters of a length win in the $250,000 Las Virgenes (gr. I) for 3-year-old fillies at Santa Anita Saturday.
It was the first grade I win for Sharp Lisa, who also captured the Santa Ynez (gr. II) Jan. 17 at Santa Anita for trainer Doug O'Neill and California owners J. Paul Reddam, Pablo Suarez, and Mark Schlessinger.
Ridden by Corey Nakatani, Sharp Lisa overtook pacesetting Charming Colleen on the final turn but was immediately tackled by the California-bred Memorette, ridden three wide on the turn by Kent Desormeaux.
In a stretch-long battle, Memorette edged slightly ahead on the outside of Sharp Lisa, but couldn't hold off the classy winner close to home. Charming Colleen, ridden by Patrick Valenzuela, was six lengths back in third. The winning time was 1:35 3/5 for the mile on a wet fast track.
Desormeaux lost his whip shortly before the wire as Memorette lost ground in the final strides.
Hot Attraction finished fourth with On London Time fifth. Classic Elegance broke poorly and was eased on the first turn. Trainer Bob Baffert scratched Pussycat Doll.
Sharp Lisa, a daughter of Dixieland Band
-Winter's Gone (Dynaformer
), won for the third time in six starts, pushing her career earnings to $411,600. Bred in Kentucky by WinStar Farm LLC, Sharp Lisa was a $50,000 Keeneland yearling buy in 2003.
Sharp Lisa broke in the air but then tracked the leader Charming Colleen closely through splits of :22 3/5, :46 1/5 and 1:10 4/5, moving up quickly to challenge on the far turn. With Memorette joining on the outside, they completed seven furlongs in a head-and-head battle in 1:23 before Sharp Lisa regained the lead in deep stretch.
The heavy favorite paid $3.20, $2.40 and $2.10. Memorette returned $2.80 and $2.20. Charming Colleen was $2.20 show.