10/30/2010 5:51PM

La Nez discovers new niche for herself in Cal Cup Distaff

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Benoit & Associates
La Nez, making her first start in a turf sprint, captures the California Cup Distaff.

INGLEWOOD, Calif.- La Nez may have redefined her career with a victory in Saturday’s $100,000 California Cup Distaff at Hollywood Park.
Making her first start in a turf sprint, La Nez beat a field of fellow California-bred fillies and mares with little difficulty, outfinishing Perfect Vintage by 1 3/4 lengths. U R All That I Am, the 7-5 favorite, finished a troubled third, after racing in traffic in early stretch.

After the race, trainer Eric Kruljac said La Nez will be pointed for turf sprints on the hillside course at Santa Anita this winter.

In the Cal Cup Distaff, La Nez ($8) had no trouble under jockey Victor Espinoza. La Nez was third for the first half-mile took the lead in early stretch and pulled away in the final furlong, finishing six furlongs in 1:09.47 over a firm turf course that had sustained a small amount of overnight rain.

La Nez had raced from farther back in her previous races, so the result of the Cal Cup Distaff left Kruljac pleased.

“She showed a new style and Victor fits her so well,” he said. “She was so keen. She’s been training so well.”

Perfect Vintage finished a neck in front of U R All That I Am, whose jockey, Joel Rosario, could only rue his luck when stuck behind horses.
“It cost me a lot of time to get out,” he said. “The winner had a better trip than me.”

La Nez races for a partnership and has won 4 of 13 starts and $321,000. She won the 2009 Cal Cup Juvenile Fillies at Santa Anita and the Fleet Treat Stakes for statebred 3-year-olds at Del Mar in July.

* Rosario was in the winner’s circle in the following race when Ultra Blend held off a late run from 7-5 favorite Lady Railrider to win the $100,000 California Cup Matron.

Ultra Blend ($6) ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.06, winning by a half-length. The first two finishers were 3 1/4 lengths clear of third-place finisher Warren’s Jitterbug, who was second in early stretch.

The Matron was Ultra Blend’s third stakes win, and first around two turns. She was beaten a neck in the Solana Beach Handicap over a mile on turf for statebred fillies and mares at Del Mar, a race that trainer Art Sherman thought went against Ultra Blend because she did not see Bran Jammas rallying on the outside.

In the Cal Cup Matron, Ultra Blend was outside of Lady Railrider.

“I think being outside helped a lot,” Sherman said. “This is her best race. I always thought she could be a decent filly going long.”

Owned by Nels Erickson, Ultra Blend has won 6 of 16 starts and $317,246. The Cal Cup Matron was her second stakes win of the year, preceded by the California State Fair Sprint Handicap in Sacramento in July. At the time, Ultra Blend was trained by Steve Sherman, but she raced in Art’s name on Saturday.