Jockey Garrett Gomez, the national leader in purse earnings last year, got the 2007 season off to a good start as well.
Moyglare Stud Farm's homebred Society Hostess gave Gomez a sweep of the New Year's Day graded stakes at Santa Anita Monday in the $116,100 Monrovia Handicap (gr. IIIT) for fillies and mares on the hillside turf course.
Favored Society Hostess came from far off the pace to win the Monrovia by one length over the Irish-bred Clinet. A race earlier, Gomez won the El Conejo Handicap (gr. III) in similar closing fashion with Harvard Avenue on the main track.
The Christophe Clement-trained Society Hostess, who won back-to-back non-graded stakes at Belmont Park and Keeneland last fall, completed the about 6 1/2-furlong test on firm going in a solid 1:12 4/5.
“She’s got a lot of class," said Gomez, who won on Society Hostess at Keeneland Oct. 19. "Everything I ask her to do, she does. Today, she broke good, but we weren’t in a hurry. She wasn’t pulling, so I knew they were going fast up front."
Clinet, ridden by Alex Solis, finished one length in front of the British-bred Kitty Hawk, who edged Somethinaboutbetty for third place by a neck.
The pacesetter Cambiocorsa, who came into the race with eight wins in nine starts on the unique downhill layout and was sent off a 4-1 second choice, faded to seventh after opening up a lead of 2 1/2 lengths in the stretch. Under high weight of 122 pounds -- three more than the winner -- she set red-hot fractions of :21 2/5 and :43 1/5.
"She ran great," said Cambiocorsa's jockey Jon Court . "She showed some gameness when we crossed the dirt, but she just didn’t have that sustained kick she normally has.”
Society Hostess trailed the field of 12 after a half-mile while saving ground, angled away from the inside coming off the hill, and finished powerfully to pass Clinet in deep stretch under left-handed urging.
Clinet had surged to the lead on the outside of Cambiocorsa to gain a short advantage before settling for second.
Kitty Hawk, ridden by Julien Leparoux, was along in time to snatch third.
After racing in Ireland for Dermot Weld, Society Hostess, a 5-year-old mare by Seeking the Gold--Touch of Truth, by Storm Cat, transferred to the United States in June and has won five of her seven starts since.
She was coming off a fifth-place finish in Hollywood Park's one-mile Matriarch (gr. IT) Nov. 26, although beaten by less than a length by Price Tag.
Overall, she owns an 8-2-2 record in 16 starts with earnings of $367,270 for Walter Haefner and James S. Cosgrove of County Kildare, Ireland. Monday's win was worth $69,660.
She paid $5.60, $3.60, and $2.60.
Clinet, who ran 11th in the Matriarch last out, returned $5.40 and $4.80.
Kitty Hawk, part of the Patrick Biancone stable, was $5.60 to show.
Somethinaboutbetty finished nearly two lengths in front of Maryfield, followed by Vanguarda, Cambiocorsa, Danclare, Bella Banissa, Costume Designer, Selvatica, and Honey Rose.
River's Prayer and Victory Spy scratched.