Defending champion Megahertz rallied from last to first in the stretch, scoring a one-length victory over Noches De Rosa in the $200,000 Santa Barbara Handicap (gr. IIT) for fillies and mares at Santa Anita Park.
Ridden by Alex Solis at 121 pounds, Megahertz ran 1-¼ miles in 2:00 3/5 on firm turf and paid $2.80, $2.10 and $2.10. Bobby Frankel is the trainer for owner Michael Bello of Newport Coast, Calif.
It was the fourth victory of the day for Solis and his 77th of the meeting. Victor Espinoza, with 87 victories, has clinched his first winter/spring meeting title. Frankel enjoyed his meet -leading eighth stakes win and his 106th stakes victory at Santa Anita, third on the all-time last.
Megahertz, a 5-year-old English-bred by Pivotal, is now six for 10 at Santa Anita and has an overall mark of 10-3-5 from 25 starts. The $120,000 winner's share pushed her earnings to $1,469,094.
As usual, Megahertz waited until late in the race to make her move. Disqualified from a victory in the Santa Ana Handicap (gr. IIT) last month for causing interference in the stretch, the diminutive chestnut made no mistakes this time. There was an anxious moment at the head of the lane, however, as Solis had to decide whether to split horses or go outside with Megahertz. He opted for the latter.
"If she's pointed in the right direction, she'll do the rest," Solis said. "Around the quarter pole I tried to split horses and there was plenty of room but when I got there (Star Vega) was lugging out and she bolted right in front of us. I got lucky. My mare is very smart, she kind of eased up and I got her to the outside. She's very special."
Frankel, who has trained dozens of top-caliber fillies and mares, places Megahertz near the top of the group.
"The only filly I've had who can kick like her was Toussaud," he said. "I think you can run this filly a lot. She doesn't take too much out of herself."
Frankel said the May 31 Gamely Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. IT) at Hollywood Park would be considered for Megahertz.
Noches De Rosa, Tyler Baze riding at 116 pounds, took the lead on the last turn but was no match when Megahertz rallied. The runner-up paid $2.40 and $2.10.
It was 2 ½ lengths back to Mandela, Javier Santiago aboard at 111 pounds, and a $2.10 payoff. Of the $337,000 wagered to show, $307,000 was bet on Megahertz.
Uraib and Star Verga completed the order of finish. Bartok's Blithe was scratched earlier in the day.