04/03/2010 12:00AM

Compari, Ventana win at Santa Anita

Benoit & Associates
Compari wins the Grade 2 Arcadia at Santa Anita after controlling the pace on the front end.

ARCADIA, Calif. - Compari used his front-running style to win Saturday's $150,000 at Santa Anita.

Leading throughout the Grade 2 race over a mile on turf, Compari won his sixth consecutive race, and first at the graded level, prevailing by a half-length over Fluke. Battle of Hastings finished third in the field of seven, but did not have the best of trips, racing on the rail for the last half-mile and losing by just three-quarters of a length.

The first three finishers were all 2-1, but Compari was a slight favorite.

This was the toughest field that Compari has faced, and marked his graded stakes debut. Fluke won the Grade 1 Citation Handicap last fall, while Battle of Hastings earned more than $1 million in 2009.

"I always felt like he could be this good, but you've got to see him beat these kind of horses," trainer Marty Jones said.

Ridden by Garrett Gomez, Compari ($6) was timed in 1:34.03. Gomez guided Compari through modest fractions of 23.44 and 47.44 seconds, leading by as much as 1 1/2 lengths and as little as a head over Aitcho. Compari led by a half-length with a quarter-mile remaining and held that advantage through the stretch.

Owned by breeders John Nicoletti, Don Valpredo, and John Harris, Compari has won 6 of 7 starts and $422,640. He has won four stakes, including the $250,000 Snow Chief Stakes for statebred 3-year-olds at Hollywood Park last April.

Potrero Grande: Ventana breaks through

Ventana won the first stakes of his career in Saturday's at Santa Anita, but the partnership that owns the sprinter, trainer Bob Baffert and jockey Garrett Gomez were hoping it would have been their second big win of the day.

An hour before the Potrero Grande, owners Mike Pegram, Karl Watson and Paul Weitman watched in frustration as the Baffert-trained Lookin At Lucky finished a troubled third under Gomez in the $750,000 Santa Anita Derby.

Gomez had a much better run aboard Ventana, who won the Grade 2 Potrero Grande by a nose over Gato Go Win. "It's good to get a stakes win for the day," Baffert said.

Ventana fought for the early lead with Eaton's Gift and Gato Go Win through fractions of 22.27 and 44.91 seconds. Ventana shook off Eaton's Gift by the head of the stretch, but was still troubled by Gato Go Win. The two were virtually inseparable in the final furlong, with Ventana just prevailing. Gato Go Win finished three-quarters of a length in front of the Baffert-trained E Z's Gentlemen in the field of eight.

Gato Go Win was unlucky to lose. "He ran huge and showed he belongs," trainer Bobby Troeger said. "I could tell on the slow-mo that he got beat on the head bob."

Ventana had been second in the Palos Verdes and San Carlos handicaps for sprinters earlier at this meeting, and has won 3 of 14 starts and $256,517.

Providencia: Hollendorfer has another good one

Jerry Hollendorfer already has the leading 3-year-old filly in the nation in Blind Luck, the winner of Friday's Fantasy Stakes at Oaklawn Park and a top contender for the Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs on April 30.

The stable can stake a claim to having one of the nation's top 3-year-old turf fillies in City to City, who won the on Saturday for her second consecutive stakes win at Santa Anita.

Sent off at 9-2 despite having won the China Doll Stakes in February, City to City closed from eighth in a field of 10 to win by a half-length over 4-1 Andina. In the Slips, the 5-2 favorite, finished third after being last for the first half-mile.

Ridden by Joel Rosario, City to City ($11.60) ran 1 1/8 miles on turf in 1:47.16.

"I think she's a little better horse than people think," said Dan Ward, Hollendorfer's assistant. "I was surprised that she was that far back, but she got pinched a bit at the start."

Owned by Hollendorfer, Mark DeDominico and William de Burgh, City to City has won 5 of 11 starts and $193,054. She has won 3 of 4 starts since being switched to turf racing at the start of 2010.

The race was marred by an injury to fifth-place finish Warren's Skater, who suffered a fetlock injury a furlong after the wire.