Switch in the La Brea Stakes.

Switch in the La Brea Stakes.

Benoit Photography

Switch Loves Change to Dirt Track in La Brea

Runner-up in Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint sets stakes mark on new surface.

Heavily favored Switch registered a stakes record time in winning the $250,000 La Brea Stakes (gr. I) on the new dirt track at Santa Anita Dec. 26 (VIDEO).

Switch, ridden to her first grade I victory by Joel Rosario for trainer John Sadler and owner C R K Stable, ran seven furlongs in 1:20.33, bettering the La Brea dirt mark set by Mamselle Bebette in 1993 of 1:20.45.

The track record for seven furlongs on dirt of 1:20 flat was established by Spectacular Bid on Jan. 5, 1980.

The new surface, after three years of running on synthetics, produced hot times on its first day. In the fourth race, 2-year-old maiden The Factor  ran six furlongs in 1:06.98 to to break the old dirt track mark of 1:07.20 set by Sunny Blossom on Dec. 30, 1989.

Switch came through along the rail to get the lead from 67-1 pacesetter Tornado Bettynear the quarter pole and took a commanding lead into the stretch. She was never seriously challenged in the lane while winning by four lengths.

Malibu Pier, ridden by Garrett Gomez, finished second over Shotgun Gulch and Alonso Quinonez.

Switch, a 3-year-old daughter of Quiet American, was coming off a second-place finish behind Dubai Majesty in the seven-furlong Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (gr. I) Nov. 5. She won for the first time in four tries at seven furlongs.

Sadler recorded his second straight win in the La Brea after taking last year's renewal with Evita Argentina. He also won it in 2007 with Dearest Trickski. Sadler missed opening day at Santa Anita with a "bum knee," according to assistant Larry Benavidez.

"She kind of got the same trip she had in the Breeders' Cup, right behind the speed," Benavidez said. "She's a pro. She'll go inside, outside, it doesn't matter. That was pretty impressive, huh?"

Tornado Betty opened a comfortable early lead over Bob Baffert stablemates Bonnie Blue Flag and Always a Princess while carving swift quarter-mile fractions of :22 and :43.81.

Switch, settled in fifth toward the inside, advanced smoothly to be third early on the turn. She came through  to get the advantage leaving the bend and kicked it in through the stretch after a tap of the whip from Rosario.

"She's a one-pace horse," Rosario said. "She's long with her strides, and just keeps going ... When I was passing the five-sixteenths pole I got a really clean trip inside. The track feels pretty good. It's a little faster (than the synthetic), but I don't think it's an issue."

Malibu Pier rallied from fourth approaching mid-stretch to be a clear second by 1 3/4 lengths over the late-running Shotgun Gulch. Second choice Always a Princess finished a head farther back in fourth.

She was followed by It Tiz, Champagne d'Oro, Tornado Betty, Bonnie Blue Flag, Hard Way Ten and Patriotic Viva.

Switch earned $150,000 while improving her career record to 4-3-2 in 11 starts for Susan Searing's C R K Stable. She has now earned $632,600. Her only previous graded stakes win came in the 1 1/16-mile Hollywood Oaks (gr. II) over the Cushion Track June 6.

Calumet Farm bred the winning bay filly in Kentucky. She is out of Antoniette, by Nicholas. She cost $150,000 as a Keeneland yearling in September 2008.

Switch carried 118 pounds and paid $4.40, $3 and $2.60. Malibu Pier returned $5.60 and $4.60 while completing a $24 exacta. Shotugn Gulch, sent off at 64-1, was $11.20 to show.

Arte Viva, La Nez and Pica Slew scratched.