Undefeated Arizona mighty mite Carlsbad ran her winning streak to five races when she drew off in the lane to claim the $100,000 Santa Paula Stakes (gr. III) for her first graded stakes win March 29 at Santa Anita Park.
While she didn't dominate her four 3-year-old filly rivals in the Santa Paula in the same manner in which she demolished her opposition in Arizona, the favored runner was nonetheless impressive, posting a 3 1/4-length win while clocking a solid time of 1:14.65 for the 6 1/2-furlong Pro-Ride event, just four-hundredths of a second off the stakes record.
Owned by her breeder, Dennis Weir, Carlsbad won her four starts in Arizona by a combined margin of more than 50 lengths. Weir transferred the Arizona-bred daughter of Rocky Bar to the Southern California barn of Jeff Mullins after she captured the Arizona Oaks by 13 1/4 lengths Feb. 21. She began her career last fall at Turf Paradise with Kevin Lewis.
“She transferred her Arizona form pretty good today,” Mullins said. “We wanted to see if she’d take to the synthetic surface. There were a lot of questions to answer today, and I think she answered them fine.”
With Tyler Baze in the irons for the first time, Carlsbad broke quickly from post four, getting the lead before being headed briefly for the first time in her career by stablemate Empressive Lady. Carlsbad led by a head while posting an opening quarter mile of :21.83.
Alex Solis, aboard Empressive Lady, took back a bit after that as Carlsbad forged a two-length advantage while clicking off a rapid :44.08 half-mile. On the turn for home, Beltene launched a bid from last, but Carlsbad was firmly in command as they entered the homestretch.
Carlsbad shifted inward while changing leads just past the three-sixteenths pole, giving Baze his only anxious moment. But the diminutive filly corrected herself and drew off under some urging from a laboring Empressive Lady.
“This is really a nice filly,” Baze said afterward. He said he had worked Carlsbad twice for Mullins. “She does everything right,” he noted.
“Today, she broke like a Quarter Horse,” Baze said. “I just sat still on her. I kept her way out in the middle of the track down the backside because I didn’t want to go head and head with Jeff’s other filly (Empressive Lady). When we cleared her, I let her drop down to the rail around the turn. She didn’t want to change leads, so I helped her. Then I hit her once left-handed, and she just took off.”
Ultra Blend, the longest shot on the board ridden by Jose Valdivia Jr., collared Empressive Lady at the eighth pole and went on to finish a clear second by 3 1/4 lengths. Pinkarella, with Rafael Bejarano aboard, was the show horse. Beltene, who flattened out in the stretch run, finished fourth, with Empressive Lady last.
The winning purse of $60,000 increased Carlsbad's career earnings to $154,126. The dark bay filly began her career with a 4 1/4-length maiden win, then took the state-bred Arizona Breeders' Futurity by 14 1/4 lengths Nov. 29. She completed her juvenile campaign with a 19-length triumph in the Arizona Juvenile Filly Stakes Dec. 27, her final start before the one-mile Arizona Oaks. All four of her earlier wins came at Turf Paradise.
Carlsbad is out of the Pine Bluff mare Kits Peak.
Sent off at odds of 3-2, Carlsbad paid $5, $3.80, and $2.60, topping a $2 exacta worth $31. Northern California-based Ultra Blend, coming off a third-place finish against males in the King Glorious Stakes at Golden Gate Fields Feb. 28 for Art Sherman, returned $7.60 and $4.80. Pinkarella was $3.60 to show.
Heartless Vixen scratched.