Updated on 09/17/2011 11:09AM

'Buffy' by a nose in Santa Paula

Benoit & Associates
Buffythecenterfold (inside) outduels Watching You to take Sunday's $79,425 Santa Paula Stakes at Santa Anita.

ARCADIA, Calif. - Buffythecenterfold scored a nose victory in Sunday's at Santa Anita, but her win marked the rare occasion when a leader was passed and then came back to prevail.

Buffythecenterfold ($6.20) was always near the pace, rallying four wide on the turn to take the lead. Her advantage was short-lived after Watching You closed from last in the field of five 3-year-old fillies to take a half-length lead at the eighth-pole. But as quickly as it seemed that Buffythecenterfold was beaten, she rallied along the inside to score a narrow win.

Ridden by Victor Espinoza, Buffythecenterfold ran 6 1-2 furlongs in 1:16.56.

"The other horse had a half-length on me and I thought I was going to be second," Espinoza said. "As soon as she changed leads, she took off on me."

Gary Stevens, who rode Watching You, was surprised to finish second. "She pulled up when I got in front," he said.

Tavy's Plan, a 20-1 shot, finished third, followed by Christmas Time and Point Clear.

Brother Mel and Warren Stute train the first two finishers.

The Santa Paula was Buffythecenterfold's first start since finished seventh in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies last October. Owned by Allen Brian and Frank Stronach, Buffythecenterfold has won 4 of 7 starts and $269,815. Last summer, she won the Landaluce Stakes at Hollywood Park and the Sorrento Stakes at Del Mar.

* In the , Road to Slew ($6) won the one-mile turf race for California-breds for the third time in the last four years.

Ridden by David Flores, Road to Slew ran a mile on turf in 1:34.20, rallying from sixth to finish a half-length in front of 40-1 Mr. Joe C. Sea to See finished third in the field of eight.

The 8-year-old Road to Slew races for breeder Nick Cafarchia and trainer Craig Dollase. A winner of 8 of 25 starts and $875,360, Road to Slew won the 2000 Crystal Water Handicap while trained by Oscar Garcia and defended his title the following the year after joining Dollase's stable.