09/06/2010 6:31PM

Gotta Have Her repeats in Palomar

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Benoit & Associates
Gotta Have Her captures the Grade 2 Palomar on Monday at Del Mar.

DEL MAR, Calif. - Gotta Have Her successfully defended her title on Monday in the Palomar Handicap, winning the Grade 2, $150,000 grass race for older fillies and mares after overcoming a dawdling pace.

Gotta Have Her ($4), the favorite, moved three paths wide on the far turn, wrested the lead from Go Forth North at midstretch, then outbattled that rival and the late-arriving Lilly Fa Pootz to win by a neck. Go Forth North beat Lilly Fa Pootz by a half-length for second, then came You Lift Me Up and Prytania in the field of five.

With Mike Smith aboard, Gotta Have Her completed 1 1/16 miles on firm turf in 1:42.39. But the time was deceptive, because You Lift Me Up led through six furlongs in 1:13.32 - following a quarter-mile in 26.24 seconds - before Gotta Have Her came blasting home. She completed the final five-sixteenths of a mile in less than 29 seconds.

"It was a weird race," said Jenine Sahadi, who trains Gotta Have Her.
"I was concerned when they went 26. Mikey said he hit the front too soon. She's very special."

The victory was the 10th in 29 lifetime starts for Gotta Have Her, 6, who is owned by the Green Lantern Stables of Richard Masson. Sahadi said this will be Gotta Have Her's last year of racing.

* Later in the day, Bench Points ($3.40) remained unbeaten by rallying for a half-length victory in the $100,000 I’m Smokin Stakes for California-bred 2-year-olds. Swiss Tart finished second, a head in front of Lucky Mr. K. Bench Points, now 3 for 3, completed six furlongs on Polytrack in 1:10.28. Rafael Bejarano was aboard for trainer Tim Yakteen.