01/14/2008 12:00AM

Indian Blessing remains unbeaten


ARCADIA, Calif. - With the added feature of suspense in the stretch, Indian Blessing, the star 2-year-old filly of 2007, won her 2008 debut in Sunday's $150,000 Santa Ynez Stakes at Santa Anita to remain unbeaten in four starts.

Making her first start since winning the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies at Monmouth Park in October, Indian Blessing turned in a record-setting comeback. She ran seven furlongs in a track-record time of 1:19.89.

But unlike her three wins in 2007, which have made her a heavy favorite to be named champion 2-year-old filly of 2007 later this month, Indian Blessing was tested in deep stretch of the Grade 2 Santa Ynez for 3-year-old fillies.

After setting a quick pace of 22.27 seconds and 43.76, Indian Blessing led by three lengths at the eighth pole, but was fully extended to hold off a late run by Golden Doc A and win by a head.

The winning time, on a track that has played remarkably quick during the winter meeting, lowered the previous mark of 1:20.37 set by Bob Black Jack in the California Breeders' Champion Stakes on Dec. 26.

Trainer Bob Baffert admitted that the final furlong left him anxious, especially after it appeared that Indian Blessing would win easily in early stretch.

"That's the most tired she's been and the hardest she's run," Baffert said. "She got it done."

Ridden by Garrett Gomez, Indian Blessing ($2.20) led by a head after a quarter-mile over Peisinoe, who was ridden by Alex Solis. Peisinoe never got closer, trailing by 1 1/2 lengths with three furlongs remaining.

"I thought they'd leave her alone, but Solis was out there pressing her," Baffert said.

Golden Doc A was last early, but closed steadily to just miss. Peisinoe held third in the field of five.

The Santa Ynez was Indian Blessing's third stakes win. Owned by breeders Hal and Patti Earnhardt, Indian Blessing has earned $1,447,200.

She was such a heavy favorite in the Santa Ynez that there was a minus show pool of $110,043 after she attracted $561,284 of the $591,066 bet to show.

El Encino: Zenyatta impresses

Zenyatta made two Grade 1 stakes winners look rather ordinary in the final furlong of the $150,000 El Encino Stakes.

Making her stakes debut, Zenyatta rallied from fourth to win the Grade 2 El Encino by 1 3/4 lengths over Tough Tiz's Sis, the winner of the Grade 1 Lady's Secret Stakes here in October. Romance Is Diane, the winner of the Grade 1 Hollywood Starlet Stakes at Hollywood Park in 2006, could only finish third after racing within a length of the front in the stretch.

Ridden by David Flores, Zenyatta ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:40.61. Flores only asked her to run through the final quarter-mile.

For the first half-mile, Zenyatta was last in the field of six 4-year-old fillies, stalking Dawn After Dawn, who led after her saddle slipped. Zenyatta was fifth on the turn and rallied four-wide in early stretch. She trailed leader Tough Tiz's Sis by 2 1/2 lengths with a furlong remaining and cruised to the front late.

"I really don't remember riding a horse that covers so much ground," Flores said.

Owned by Jerry and Ann Moss and trained by John Shirreffs, Zenyatta has earned $144,000. She beat maidens in her debut at Hollywood Park on Nov. 22 and returned to win an allowance race there Dec. 15.

Shirreffs said Zenyatta will be pointed for the $200,000 La Canada Stakes for 4-year-old fillies at 1 1/8 miles on Feb. 10.

Santa Ysabel: Final Fling closes

Final Fling won her stakes debut in the $108,900 Santa Ysabel Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, as Turn Away, the 3-5 favorite, was injured and finished last.

Turn Away, who was a troubled third in the Grade 2 Golden Rod Stakes at Churchill Downs in November, was vanned off with a hind leg injury, according to track stewards. Humberto Ascanio, assistant trainer to Bobby Frankel, said Turn Away was not seriously injured.

"It looks like she took a bad step," he said. "It's nothing. So far, it looks all right."

Final Fling ($23.40) closed from fourth in the field of six to win by 1 1/4 lengths over Grace Anatomy, who led through the stretch. Kazamira finished third, five lengths behind Final Fling. Ridden by Joe Talamo, Final Fling ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:41.96.

Owned by Michael House and trained by Jeff Mullins, Final Fling has won 2 of 4 starts and $104,814. She won a maiden race for California-bred sprinters at Hollywood Park last month in her third career start. The Santa Ysabel was her first start beyond seven furlongs.