Michael Bello's favored Megahertz rallied from last in a five-horse field to edge stablemate Trekking in the $250,000 Santa Barbara Handicap (gr.IIT) for older fillies and mares on the grass at Santa Anita Saturday.
The English-bred 4-year-old daughter of Pivotal, trained by Bobby Frankel with Alex Solis aboard, defeated Trekking by 3/4-length in a time of 2:00 for the 1 1/4-mile Santa Barbara. Chilean-bred Noches de Rosa, who was seeking her third consecutive stakes win, was third, beaten by 2 1/4 lengths.
Megahertz had lost four in a row since being awarded last year's American Oaks at Hollywood Park on a disqualification. Frankel also conditions Trekking, who was making her third U.S. start after four races in England for Juddmonte Farms. A four-length allowance winner in her last at Santa Anita on March 1, Trekking was making her first graded stakes appearance.
Starting from the outside post, Solis opted to save ground with Megahertz while sitting six lengths off the early pace of Trekking, who led past the eighth pole while fighting gamely to the wire after fractions of :24 2/5, :48 1/5, 1:12 2/5 and 1:36 1/5.
Megahertz came off the rail on the turn for home, split between foes Noches de Rosa and Garden in the Rain in upper stretch and edged to the front while under strong urging.
Garden in the Rain, the 2-1 second choice, was last after weakening in the stretch.
Earning $150,000 for the victory, Megahertz improved her career line to 18-7-3-3 with a total bankroll of $822,646. She won her first five races in the U.S. after running in France until last August, and is now six-for-10 in this country. She was third to Noches de Rosa and Garden in the Rain in her last start, the Santa Ana Handicap (gr. IIT) at Santa Anita on March 22. She has won four of six on the Santa Anita turf.
"She got bumped around good the last time (third in the Santa Ana on March 22), so all I wanted today was a clean trip and we got it," Solis said. "The pace was realistic today, not like last time. I just wanted to stay close to the pace and I knew she'd make her run. She's a great mare and likes this turf course."
This was Frankel's third Santa Barbara win. He won with Wandesta in 1995 and Possibly Perfect in 1994.
Sent off at 13-10, the winner paid $4.60, $3 and $2.20. Trekking, who was ridden by Tyler Baze, returned $5.20 and $3. Noches de Rosa's show price, with Mike Smith in the irons, was $2.80. The $2 exacta was worth $21.60.