Updated on 09/16/2011 7:51AM

Favorite Funtime best in Santa Maria


ARCADIA, Calif. - Favorite Funtime parlayed a slow pace into her first major stakes win in Sunday's $200,000 Santa Maria Handicap* at Santa Anita.

Allowed to set her own pace, Favorite Funtime held off a late challenge from Verruma to score by a head in the Grade 1 Santa Maria. Ridden by Gary Stevens, Favorite Funtime ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.15, beating a field that included Spain and Queenie Belle, who failed to mount challenges.

"This race set up perfect her on paper," Stevens said. "I let her find her own place and her natural speed put her on the lead."

Favorite Funtime broke from the outside post in the field of seven fillies and mares and raced off the rail throughout. Second on the first turn, she took the lead on the backstretch and contributed to fractions of 23.88 and 48.07 seconds, holding a 1 1/2 advantage over Spain.

On the final turn, Favorite Funtime pulled away from Spain to have a clear lead in early stretch. In the final furlong, Verruma launched a challenge on the outside, but could never get by Favorite Funtime.

Printemps closed from las to finish third, a length behind Verruma, and was was followed by Spain, Queenie Belle, Critikola and Leading Light.

Favorite Funtime won for the sixth time in her 12-race career. Trained by Bob Baffert, who was in Florida for the Eclipse Awards, Favorite Funtime has earned $417,900 for John and Betty Mabee's Golden Eagle Farms.

"I told Gary before the race, 'See if you can steal it,'" Baffert said. "It's your best shot.

"She was due to get lucky. She's been right there and I think she's getting better as she gets older."

*In the $82,575 San Marino Handicap, Kudos won his first stakes on dirt to join the probables for the $1 million Santa Anita Handicap on March 2.

Trained by Richard Mandella, Kudos ($4.80) ran 1 1/4 miles in 2:02.33, finishing a half-length in front of Lord Jim.

National Anthem was third in a race taken off the turf due to overnight rains. Morning-line favorite Beat Hollow was a non-starter.

* Requires Adobe Acrobat Reader.