Buffy Gives Mel Stute Win Over Brother Warren

(from track report)
In a battle of longtime training brothers, Mel Stute, 75, defeated Warren Stute, 81, when Buffythecenterfold edged favored Watching You by a nose Sunday in the $79,425 Santa Paula Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Santa Anita Park.

Buffythecenterfold, making her first start of the year, led the 6 1/2-furlong Santa Paula into the stretch before surrendering her advantage at the eighth pole to Watching You, the even-money favorite in the field of five.

But the Kentucky-bred daughter of 1986 Breeders'Cup Juvenile champion Capote fought back gamely to secure her third stakes triumph and fourth victory overall in seven career starts.

"When she won two races early in her career at Hollywood (Park)," Mel Stute recalled, "it looked like the other horses were going to go right by her, but she never let them,"

The co-featured $111,300 Crystal Water Handicap, at one mile on turf for California-breds, was taken by Road to Slew, making the 8-year-old Slewpy gelding the second horse ever to win the same Santa Anita stakes race three times.

Del Mar Dennis won the San Bernardino Handicap (gr. III) three years in a row, 1994-96.

Ridden for the first time by Victor Espinoza in the Santa Paula, Buffythecenterfold carried top weight of 121 pounds under allowance conditions and finished in 1:16.56 on a fast track. She earned $47,655 for her owners, Allen Brian of Pasadena and Santa Anita president Frank Stronach. She now has banked $269,835.

The Santa Paula was her first start since she finished seventh in the $1 million Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies at Arlington Park on Oct. 26

Buffythecenterfold won the Landaluce Stakes (gr. III) at Hollywood Park and the Sorrento Stakes (gr. II) at Del Mar and ran second in the Del Mar Debutante (gr. I) and Oak Leaf Stakes (gr. II) at Santa Anita.

Buffythecenterfold, the 2-1 second choice in the betting, returned $6.20, $3 and $2.40. Watching You, ridden by Gary Stevens and coming off a third-place finish behind Composure and Elloluv in the Las Virgenes Stakes (gr. I) on Feb. 9, paid $2.60 and $2.10. Tavy's Plan ran third at 20-1, the longest shot in the lineup, and paid $2.60 to show.

The venerable Road to Slew, ridden by David Flores for trainer Craig Dollase, got through on the rail to win the Crystal Water by one-half length over 40-1 shot Mr. Joe C in 1:34.20.

The 2-1 favorite among eight starters, Road to Slew carried 117 pounds and paid $6, $4.60 and $3.80. Mr. Joe C returned $22.60 and $7.60. Sea to See, a nose farther back in third, paid $5.20 to show

The victory was the first for Road to Slew since the 2001 Crystal Water, which he won under Laffit Pincay Jr. He won the 2000 Crystal Water with Victor Espinoza.

Injuries limited Road to Slew to only one start in 2002, when Hugh Hefner won the Crystal Water. Hugh Hefner ran fifth in Sunday's race after chasing the pace of Yougottawanna.

The three victories in the Crystal Water are among Road to Slew's total of eight successes in 25 career starts. Earning $66,780 Sunday, he raised his lifetime bankroll to $875,360.

The first two-day Pick Six carryover of the meet enticed players to add a meet high of $1,746,882 to a Pick Six pool that began the day with $576,331. The total Pick Six pool also represented a meet best of $2,323,213.

Florida-based jockey Edgar Prado, who rode Milwaukee Brew to victory in the $1 million Santa Anita Handicap on March 1, became the 54th recipient of the George Woolf Memorial Award in a ceremony after Sunday's fifth race.

(Chart, Equibase)