Updated on 09/16/2011 9:09AM

Miss Houdini wins Debutante


DEL MAR, Calif. - An upset win by Miss Houdini in Saturday's $250,000 gave jockey Gary Stevens his biggest win of the meeting in his second day back following knee surgery.

Stevens, who missed a month after having bone chips removed from a knee, was a replacement rider for Eddie Delahoussaye, who was shaken up in a spill on Friday and did not ride over the weekend.

Miss Houdini ($24.80) ran seven furlongs in 1:23.43. She is unbeaten in two starts, having won a maiden race at Hollywood Park on July 13 for owner Bo Hirsch and trainer Warren Stute.

Miss Houdini had an ideal trip in the Grade 1 Debutante. Stevens had her in sixth and then fourth on the backstretch, tracking pacesetters Buffythecenterfold and Ionia through fractions of 22.25 and 44.98 seconds.

"She broke a little awkward, but in a sixteenth she wanted to run over the top of fillies," Stevens said. "I wanted to get her outside so she wouldn't fight me."

With a wide-rally on the turn, Miss Houdini took the lead near the quarter pole and held off a late run from 4-5 Santa Catarina to win by a neck.

"When she made the front, she wasn't paying attention," Stevens said.

"She needed a target. When I got her to switch leads, she had enough to hold off that other filly."

Santa Catarina was favored on the strength of an eight-length maiden on Aug. 11. She finished 9 1-2 lengths in front of Indy Groove.

Buffythecenterfold, a two-time stakes winner this summer, faded through the stretch and finished seventh in the field of eight 2-year-old fillies.