Updated on 09/17/2011 11:33PM

Balance ends debate with Oaks score

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Balance, under jockey Victor Espinoza, scores a powerful 2 1/2-length victory in the Grade 1 $300,000 Santa Anita Oaks on Sunday.

ARCADIA, Calif. - Whatever debate there may have been over whether Balance or Wild Fit was the best 3-year-old filly in California, let alone the nation, was put to rest on Sunday when Balance scored a powerful, 2 1/2-length victory against Wild Fit and seven other rivals in the Grade 1, $300,000 .

Balance ($5.20) was forced to race four paths wide the entire trip over a track that seemed to favor inside lanes all day. Yet she made a bold, resolute run under jockey Victor Espinoza on the far turn and came home strongly.

"She kicked on and just kept on going," said David Hofmans, who trains Balance.

Quiet Kim, a 27-1 longshot, held on for second, with favored Wild Fit finishing another three lengths back in third. Wild Fit is now 0-for-3 in races around two turns.

Balance has now won four times in six starts, though she had another victory taken away last Nov. 2 when disqualified in a controversial decision in the Hidden Light Stakes. Her only other loss came when she finished second in the Hollywood Starlet to Diplomat Lady, who was fourth in the Santa Anita Oaks.

Cheerily, like Wild Fit trained by Patrick Biancone, was sent to the lead and set fractions of 23.82 seconds and 47.08 seconds for the first half-mile. Balance was seventh in the nine-horse field heading down the backstretch, with Espinoza unable to find an opportunity to save ground.

"I was a little concerned about what was going to happen on the first turn, because it seemed there was a bunch with in-between speed," Hofmans said.

It did not matter. Balance took off on the far turn and easily roared past Quiet Kim. Wild Fit followed Balance around the final turn, but -- as she did in her previous two-turn races -- was one-paced through the lane.

Balance covered 1 1/16 miles on the fast main track in 1:42.99.

John and Jerry Amerman own Balance, a daughter of Thunder Gulch.

Hofmans said Balance would be pointed to the Kentucky Oaks on May 5 at Churchill Downs. He was unsure if she would have another race between now and then.

Earlier on the card, Yes He's a Pistol ($11.80) held off a belated bid from Dixie Meister to capture the $85,450 Santana Mile for older horses. Saint Buddy was third, with 3-1 favorite Imperialism eighth in the nine-horse field. Yes He's a Pistol, 4, has won twice in four starts since being claimed for $80,000 by co-owner Steve Kenly's STD Stable. Minister Eric was scratched off the program. Doug O'Neill trains Yes He's a Pistol, who sped one mile on the fast main track in 1:35.41. Garrett Gomez was up.