12/26/2009 12:00AM

Evita Argentina flies from last to first

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ARCADIA, Calif. - Evita Argentina got off slowly but finished fastest of all, storming down the center of the track to rally from last to first to win the Grade 1, $300,000 for 3-year-old fillies on Saturday's opening-day card at Santa Anita.

Evita Argentina ($10.40) blew past 10 rivals to win by two lengths, with Starlarks beating Amazed by Grace by a head for second. Gabby's Golden Gal, the 5-2 favorite, finished seventh in the field of 11. Mother Ruth was scratched.

Evita Argentina completed seven furlongs on Pro-Ride in 1:21.78. Her cause was aided by a contested early pace between Kays and Jays and Amazed by Grace, who clicked off fractions of 22.91 seconds for the opening quarter-mile and 45.19 seconds for a half-mile.

"She's been a lovely filly for us all along," said John Sadler, who trains Evita Argentina. "She's been a little unlucky her last couple of starts. She needs pace. She needs a couple of horses to set it up."

Sadler was winning his first Grade 1 of the year with his 25th starter.

Joel Rosario picked Evita Argentina over Pinkarella. Evita Argentina had finished seventh against older runners in the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint in her last start. The La Brea enabled her to run in a race strictly for 3-year-old fillies.

Evita Argentina, a daughter of Candy Ride, has now won 6 of 13 starts. She was bred and is owned by the Halo Farms of Ted Aroney.

- additional reporting by Steve Andersen