02/27/2011 8:51PM

Quick Enough takes advantage of slow pace to win Sensational Star

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Benoit & Associates
Quick Enough (right), holds off Amazombie in the Sensational Star. The two sprinters will meet again in Saturday's Tiznow.

ARCADIA, Calif. - Quick Enough proved impossible to catch in Sunday’s $100,000 Sensational Star Handicap at Santa Anita after settling a slow pace in the first half of the race on the hillside turf course.

Ridden by Patrick Valenzuela, his third winner on Sunday, Quick Enough ($10.60) set a pace of 22.89 and 45.48 seconds – very moderate for the downhill portion of the course – and held off a stretch-long threat from 6-5 favorite Amazombie to win by a half-length. Dancing in Silks, the winner of the 2009 Breeders’ Cup Sprint at Santa Anita, finished third in the field of eight.

The slow pace did not entirely surprise winning trainer Doug O’Neill. “They were crawling,” he said. “It didn’t look like there was a lot of pace.”

Quick Enough led by a head with a furlong remaining, and looked as if he would be caught by Amazombie. Through the final furlong, Valenzuela coaxed Quick Enough to a wider margin.

“I always knew I had horse in this race,” Valenzuela said. “I never hit my horse, I just hand rode him. He stuck his neck out there and put everything into the race.”

Jockey Mike Smith said Amazombie never reached the lead. “Pat’s horse ran out of his skin,” he said. “It was a race that didn’t have any pace.”

The Sensational Star Handicap was restricted to California-breds, and was Dancing in Silks’s first start since being transferred from trainer Carla Gaines to Kathy Walsh in early January. Dancing in Silks has yet to win in six starts since he won the BC Sprint.

“The horse has to get his confidence back, and he’s getting it,” Walsh said. “I ran him a little sooner than I wanted to. He was not pulling himself up. He was finishing.”

Quick Enough, a 7-year-old gelding by High Brite, has won 8 of 19 starts and $375,360. Owned by Michael Bello, Russ Sarno, and Pablo Suarez, Quick Enough was claimed for $40,000 at Del Mar last August.

Last fall, Quick Enough won the Grade 3 Morvich Handicap at Hollywood Park, but was a troubled 10th in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint at Churchill Downs in November. The Sensational Star was Quick Enough’s third start of the year, preceded by a second in the Grade 3 Daytona Handicap on the hillside turf course on Jan. 1 and a sixth in the Sunshine Millions Sprint on the main track on Jan. 29.