01/31/2015 7:57PM

No one can catch Callback in Las Virgenes

Benoit & Associates
Callback, ridden by Martin Garcia, stamps herself a leading contender for the Santa Anita Oaks by winning the Grade 1 Las Virgenes.

ARCADIA, Calif. - Callback justified the hype present for much of her career with her first stakes win in Saturday’s $301,000 Las Virgenes Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Santa Anita.

The win puts Callback at the top of the list of candidates for the $400,000 Santa Anita Oaks on April 4, and showed that two-turn races are likely to be her specialty.

“I think she’s bred for it,” said winning trainer Bob Baffert. “We’ve always been high on her since we got her.”

Ridden by Martin Garcia, Callback ($7.20) led throughout the one-mile Las Virgenes, leading by as much as 1 1/2 lengths. She won by a half-length over 7-1 Light the City. Callback set early fractions of 22.89 seconds for the first quarter-mile, and 46.88 for a half-mile. On the turn, she kicked clear of Light the City and seemed to have the race in control.

“I was chilling, chilling, chilling, and then I asked her and she responded,” Garcia said.

Callback was timed in 1:36.92. Light the City was the best-placed of four fillies in the field trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, who had the third through fifth-place finishers with Achiever’s Legacy, Majestic Presence, and Lutine Belle. Suva Harbor, who was second early, faded to finish sixth, followed by Miss Mandate, Maybellene, and Mio Me. Hollendorfer had a fifth entered in Glory, who was withdrawn.

Baffert trains Maybellene, the 2-1 favorite who was third to division champion Take Charge Brandi in the Grade 1 Starlet Stakes at Los Alamitos on Dec. 13.

“I wanted to run one-two but she didn’t kick today,” Baffert said of Maybellene.

Callback was purchased for $375,000 at the 2013 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga yearling sale. She was favored in her first two starts, beating maidens at Los Alamitos in December. Callback was second in the Grade 2 Santa Ynez Stakes at 6 1/2 furlongs here on Jan. 3 in her stakes debut.

The Las Virgenes was the longest race of Callback’s career.

“I knew she’d be forwardly placed, and I thought her last race was good,” Baffert said.

Callback races for B. Wayne Hughes. The filly is by Street Sense, suggesting stamina will not be an issue. Garcia is eager to ride her in longer races in the spring.

“She’s a good filly,” Garcia said. “She’s been running short but she wants to go longer. She’ll run with the good horses.”