Powerful Stretch Run Gives Astra Santa Barbara Victory

The Allen E. Paulson Living Trust's Astra unleashed a furious stretch run to defeat Beautiful Noise and five other older fillies and mares in Saturday's $250,000 Santa Barbara Handicap (gr. IIT) at Santa Anita. Kent Desormeaux booted home the 5-year-old Theatrical mare after running the 1 1/4 miles in 2:01.33 on a firm turf course.

"She's a very eager mare, she's keen to get things done and she was just perfect today," said Desormeaux. "She got into a cantor, she galloped to the quarter pole, and when I swung her out (for the run to the wire), she took off so fast, she nearly gave me whiplash. She was really, really awesome. I just aimed her in the right direction."

The win is the seventh in nine starts for the Simon Bray trainee, coming in her first start since a fourth-place finish – she was subsequently disqualified and placed fifth -- in the Beverly Hills Handicap (gr. IT) last July at Hollywood Park. Prior to that race, she reeled off four consecutive victories, including wins in the Gamely Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. IT), the Jenny Wiley (gr. IIIT), and the $72,000 Matiara. Assistant trainer Alex Sauque said a defense of her Gamely title will be her next start. Astra earned $150,000 for the win to push her career earnings past the $500,000 mark.

Beautiful Noise finished three lengths behind Astra and a neck ahead of third-place Uncharted Haven. Deborah, New Story, Running Flame, and Balboa Park completed the order of finish.

Astra returned $4.80, $3.20, and $2.20 as the 7-5 favorite. Beautiful Noise completed a $1 exacta worth $6.10 and paid $3 and $2.20. Uncharted Haven was worth $2.40 to show. (Chart, Equibase)