10/02/2009 11:00PM

Lady Railrider shows fresh is good


ARCADIA, Calif. - Lady Railrider has proven to be effective in short and long races, and against competition in Northern and Southern California.

Saturday, she handled a return from a five-month layoff to win the $100,000 California Cup Matron Handicap at Santa Anita. Plagued by foot problems at times during her career, Lady Railrider showed no rustiness in beating four female rivals in the Matron, the first of eight stakes for horses bred in California or by a California-based sire on California Cup Day.

"You're always concerned off the layoff," trainer Steve Specht said. "She handled everything fine. This filly gives an effort every time she goes out there."

Ridden by Frank Alvarado, Lady Railrider rallied from fourth, overcoming brief traffic problems on the backstretch, to win by 1 3/4 lengths over Smooth Performer. Hot n' Dusty, the 8-5 favorite, finished third.

"I had a little trouble on the backstretch," Alvarado said. "I got lucky and got her to relax. I had to be patient."

Gambler's Justice set a slow pace of 25.04 and 49.60 seconds but could not keep the advantage in the stretch. Lady Railrider ($7.40) was timed in 1:44.20.

Owned by breeders Larry and Marianne Williams, Lady Railrider, 4, has won 6 of 17 starts and $456,700. She has won three stakes, although the Matron was the richest win of her career. Last winter, she was second in the $500,000 Sunshine Millions Distaff at Santa Anita. The Matron was her first start since a third in the B. Thoughtful Stakes on Hollywood Park's Gold Rush Day last April.

Specht said that Lady Railrider was given the summer off to let her feet grow. The filly will return to his base at Golden Gate Fields, but could return to Southern California for a stakes later this fall, he said.