Front-running Tarlow pulled jockey Patrick Valenzuela to the lead soon after the start and was never headed while recording a two-length victory in the $200,000 La Canada Stakes (gr. II) for 4-year-old fillies at Santa Anita Saturday.
It was the first graded stakes victory for Tarlow, a Kentucky-bred filly by Stormin Fever
who is owned by Mr. and Mrs. Jerome Moss and trained by John Shirreffs.
Sweet Lips, the Bobby Frankel-trained winner of the Sunshine Millions Distaff who carried top weight of 121 in the field of five, rallied for second with Alex Solis aboard. She finished a half-length better than the 4-5 choice A.P. Adventure and Rene Douglas.
Amorama missed the show spot by a nose. Iflookscouldkill trailed.
The final time for the 1 1/8-mile event on a wet fast track was 1:48 3/5.
Shirreffs said he was very concerned about whether Tarlow could handle the distance.
"It was kind of a surprise that she could stay out there all the way," he said. "Luckily she wasn't pressed. I think that made a big difference. This horse is so special to the Mosses. It's named after a very dear friend of theirs, Rose Tarlow, who is a very close friend. It's kind of a real special victory for them, believe me."
Tarlow was sidelined for nearly nine months after her ninth-place finish behind Halfbridled in the 2003 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I). She had an allowance victory at Hollywood Park to show from five starts since returning to action in July. She turned in an encouraging third-place finish to start the year, losing by 2 1/2 lengths to Girl Warrior after setting the pace in the El Encino (gr. II) Jan. 16.
"She ran a great race last time when Gary rode her, (although) she was a little rank," Valenzuela said, "and today she seemed relaxed on the lead and came home nice."
Ridden for the first time by Valenzuela and carrying 117, she raced a bit off the rail into the lane after serious fractions of :22 4/5, :46 4/5 and 1:10 2/5. Sweet Lips angled out a bit for the stretch run but was unable to make any impression on the winner, who won gamely under urging.
"She finished strong," Solis said of Sweet Lips, "but the winner never came back. They went a good pace and just kept going."
A.P. Adventure, a grade I winner looking for her first victory in a year, was in a good spot along the inside while stalking into the far turn but drifted out in the stretch and barely held on for third. She has now lost five in a row since winning last year's Las Virgenes (gr. I).
Tarlow, a $275,000 yearling purchase who was bred by Brereton C. Jones, is out of the Dreadnought broodmare Madam Bear. She ran second in Santa Anita's Oak Leaf (gr. II) behind Halfbridled as a 2-year-old and now has a record of 3-3-1 in nine lifetime starts with earnings of $259,740.
She paid $11.80, $6 and $2.10 as the third choice. Sweet Lips returned $4.40 and $2.10. A.P. Adventure's show was $2.10.