Favored Proposed reached the front at the top of the stretch and overpowered her rivals in the run to the wire, easily winning the $150,000 El Encino (gr. II) for 4-year-old fillies at Santa Anita Sunday.
Facing open company for the first time since her 2-year-old season, the Mr. and Mrs. Martin Wygod-owned California homebred picked up her initial graded stakes victory as a slight 9-5 choice in the second leg of Santa Anita's La Canada series.
With Patrick Valenzuela aboard for trainer John Shirreffs, Proposed raced off the rail in third behind pacesetting Somethinaboutlaura and Cream Donut Keith into the far turn when she turned up the pressure while three wide. She was in command of her six rivals in mid-stretch and won as much the best by 2 1/2 lengths while drifting inward late under urging. She completed the 1 1/16-mile distance in 1:44 1/5 on a track rated fast but playing sluggishly all day after heavy recent rain.
"She was sitting behind the leaders very comfortably and when I asked her around the turn, she picked it up nice and she went on about her business," Valenzuela said. "She had her ears pricked through the stretch but she kept running. She's a really nice filly. I'm looking for bigger and better things with her."
Proposed, a daughter of Benchmark-Quiet Romance (Bertrando) won for the fifth time in nine starts and increased her earnings to $277,200. Carrying 118 pounds, she paid $5.60, $3 and $2.40.
It was a good weekend at Santa Anita for the California sire Benchmark, whose son Brother Derek upset 2005 Bessemer Trust Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) winner Stevie Wonderboy in Saturday's San Rafael Stakes (gr. II).
New York shipper Play Ballado ($3.80, $2.60), with regular rider Edgar Prado coming west for trainer John Ward, rallied mildly in her first try around two turns to get second by two lengths after a stalking trip on the outside.
"She was in a good position but (Proposed) had quicker acceleration than my filly," Prado said. "I think that was the difference. But my horse was gaining and she galloped out good and strong."
Somethinaboutlaura ($3), breaking from the rail with Aaron Gryder aboard, was pressed all the way on the front end by Cream Donut Keith through solid fractions of :23, :47 2/5 and 1:12 3/5. She held on for third by 1 1/4 lengths over Skipping Court.
Proposed posted a five-length win in a 1 1/16-mile allowance race at Hollywood Park Dec. 16 when ridden for the first time by Valenzuela. In her race prior to that, she ran third in the California Cup Matron Handicap at Santa Anita Nov. 6 -- her first stakes appearance since finishing seventh in the 2004 Del Mar Debutante (gr. I).
Shimmer finished fifth, followed by Cream Donut Keith. The Irish-bred Three Degrees, a grade II winner on turf, failed to fire in her first attempt on the dirt for trainer Patrick Gallagher, weakening late and finishing last as the 7-2 third choice.