Sweet Lips rallied along the rail under Rene Douglas to tally a 1 1/2-length victory in the $500,000 Sunshine Millions Distaff at odds of 12-1 for trainer Bobby Frankel at Santa Anita Park Saturday.The Florida-bred filly won her first stakes race and completed the 1 1/16-mile test for California and Florida breds in 1:42 3/5. Earning $275,000 for owners Gary and Mary West of Omaha, Neb., she paid $27.60, $11 and $6.60."I don't worry about the price, I knew she was doing good, and Bobby and I were really confident that she was going to run big," Douglas said afterward.
Fencelineneighbor, ridden by Luis Jauregui, was forwardly placed throughout and held gamely through the stretch. The runner-up, off at odds of 39-1, returned $29.40 and $13.60. Dream of Summer, Mike Smith riding, was a nose behind and paid $5.40.
A 4-year-old by Kris S., Sweet Lips finished ninth in the La Brea Stakes (gr. I) on Dec. 27 at seven furlongs, but had won four straight prior to that outing. She is now six for nine overall with earnings to $425,138.
Last early after a slow break, Sweet Lips offered a sustained rally to get past Fencelineneighbor, a grade III winner in her most recent start. After switching out in upper stretch, Sweet Lips was angled back to the inside by Douglas in the stretch. The jockey said the addition of blinkers helped to keep the filly focused.
"There was no game plan," Douglas said. "We were just going to have patience and make sure we didn't get her stopped once she made her move."
California-bred Yearly Report, the 4-5 favorite, never got untracked for jockey Jerry Bailey and finished sixth. "It's not that she didn't feel well," Bailey said. "I just never had any horse at any time. She just had no energy at all, completely flat."
Two-time grade II winner House of Fortune, the second choice at 5-1, had a difficult trip, clipping heels and coming out in the first turn after pulling jockey Gary Stevens along the inside. She weakened in the stretch and finished eighth.La Brea winner Alphabet Kisses set a solid pace – :22 4/5, :46, 1:09 4/5 and 1:35 4/5 – before giving way to Fencelineneighbor inside of the eighth pole and settling for fourth place. Friel's for Real, Yearly Report, Scarlett Memories, House of Fortune, Redoubled Miss, and Mini Skirt followed.
Sweet Lips, out of the Afleet mare The Administrator, was a Keeneland yearling buy in 2002 for $200,000. Brylynn Farms Inc. bred her.