Bettarun Fast slipped through along the rail in upper stretch under jockey Aaron Gryder and held off El Mirage Queen and Acceleration in the final strides to spring a 31-1 upset in the $105,650-added Santa Paula (gr. III) for 3-year-old fillies at Santa Anita Saturday.
Vladamir Cerin saddled the bay Florida-bred daughter of Kelly Kip
-Split Decision (Dispersal) for her first graded stakes win. Gryder rode Bettarun Fast for the first time to a second-place finish in the La Habra down the hillside turf course March 5.
In the 6 1/2-furlong Santa Paula on a wet-fast track, Gryder had a ground-saving spot throughout as Candy Jo, pressed on her outside by El Mirage Queen, dueled through sizzling fractions of :21 1/5 and :43 3/5. As they came off the turn, Candy Jo edged off the rail a bit and Gryder drove Bettarun Fast through the opening. She got to the lead near the eighth pole and held fast by a half-length as El Mirage Queen, ridden by Jon Court, and Acceleration, with Garrett Gomez aboard, ground toward the wire. The field was spread six across the track with a furlong left. The final time was 1:15.
"She ran a good second in the La Habra and today I think she got the best ride," Cerin said. "They went 43 and change and she was full of run out there. Aaron (Gryder) did just a super job."
Ladys Souvenir, the 9-10 choice in the field of seven after winning her first two races in Northern California, faded in the stretch to finish fourth after stalking the leaders in third place on the far outside. She bobbled at the break as well.
"She stumbled a little bit (at the start) and was lugging out a little bit the whole way," jockey Alex Solis said of the favorite. "Hopefully, she pulled up OK."
Bettarun Fast, who paid $64, $18.60, and $8.40, improved to 4-2-0 in her eight lifetime starts for owner Patricia and Stephen Fitzpatrick. She earned $63,390, pushing her career total to $168,505.
"She broke well and kind of settled in behind them, and I thought the best chance we had was just to sit there," Gryder said. "I liked the filly that was in front of us, Candy Jo. I figured she was going to go on and open it up for us if we can keep up with her.
"She was the right one to follow and fortunately, turning for home, there was a little bit of a gap and my filly responded when I called on her. She took advantage of it and it made the difference."
El Mirage Queen, who nosed Acceleration for second, returned $5.60 and $3.40. Acceleration was $3.40 to show.
After Ladys Souvenir came Candy Jo, Morethanaprincess, and Brenda Meova.