03/12/2017 7:33PM

Goodyearforroses much the best in Santa Ana

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Benoit & Associates
Goodyearforroses wins the Grade 2 Santa Ana under Corey Nakatani.

ARCADIA, Calif. – For the better part of two years, the older female grass division in Southern California has lacked a clear leader, with any number of fillies and mares grabbing the top spot, only to quickly surrender it. But it appears Goodyearforroses, who has risen to the top this meet at Santa Anita, may stick around awhile.

 For the third straight time since arriving on this circuit, Goodyearforroses won a stakes race at Santa Anita, but on Sunday it was the most significant one yet, and the most impressive. Goodyearforroses ($4) was a dominant winner over her rivals in the Grade 2, $201,035 Santa Ana Stakes, the 1 3/4-length margin of victory not reflective of how much best she was while winning the first graded stakes of her career.

 “I think she’s getting a lot better,” said her trainer, Richard Baltas, who took over when Goodyearforroses was acquired by the Abbondanza Racing partnership headed by attorney Bing I. Bush Jr. “The trouble we’ve had is keeping weight on her, but you watch her works, and go wow, and watch her train, and go wow. The ultimate goal now is a Grade 1 win. We’ve got a Grade 2 now.”

Goodyearforroses, under Corey Nakatani, sat just off the leaders in a perfect striking position, roared past the leaders with authority heading into the lane, and never had the result in doubt through the stretch run. She polished off her final three furlongs in less than 35 seconds, and the final furlong in 11.40 seconds, to complete 1 1/8 miles on firm turf in 1:47.98.

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 Pretty Girl rallied from last in the eight-horse field to be second, 1 1/2 lengths in front of third-place Sweet Charity. Sheeza Milky Way was fourth and was followed, in order, by Evo Campo, Do the Dance, Responsibleforlove, and Kenriya.

 The win was the seventh in 15 starts for Goodyearforroses. She won four times for her previous trainer, Roger Attfield, including a listed stakes on synthetic at Woodbine. After heading to California at the end of last year, Goodyearforroses won the Robert Frankel when it came off the turf on Dec. 31, and the Astra II on turf on Feb. 2.

 Goodyearforroses, 5, was bred in Ireland and is a daughter of Azamour. Her main goal over the next two months will be the Grade 1, $300,000 Gamely here on May 27.