Updated on 03/15/2011 3:29PM

Sana Anita: Miss Match connects at 45-1 in Santa Margarita; Always a Princess injured

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BENOIT PHOTO
A hot pace helped deep closer Miss Match pull off an upset in the Santa Margarita.

ARCADIA, Calif. – The longshot Miss Match closed resolutely and just did get up in the final strides to defeat favored Switch in the Grade 1, $300,000 Santa Margarita Invitational Stakes on Saturday at Santa Anita, a race marred by an injury to Always a Princess, who fell near the wire and fractured both sesamoid bones in her left front ankle, but likely can be saved for breeding purposes, her trainer, Bob Baffert, said late Saturday.

"Right now we're trying to decide whether she needs surgery or can heal on her own," Baffert said.

Always a Princess, 4, had won five times in nine starts going into the Santa Margarita. She had won the El Encino and La Canada Stakes here earlier in the meet.

Her rider, Martin Garcia, said he heard “a pop” with Always a Princess in the stretch.

“I tried to pull her up, but she was too strong,” he said.

Always a Princess was being eased and was last, nearing the wire, when she fell.

Just seconds earlier, Miss Match ($92.40) crossed the wire first in - from a parimutuel standpoint - the biggest upset in the history of this track’s championship race for older fillies and mares.

Miss Match took advantage of a race shape that favored her late run. Always a Princess set sharp fractions of 23.38 seconds for the opening quarter-mile, 46.39 seconds for a half-mile, and 1:09.53 for six furlongs, with Switch just off her, and those two were well in front of their four rivals.

Switch, the 4-5 favorite, took over entering the stretch, but she was struggling to hold the lead. Vision of Gold loomed up, and then Miss Match, fifth early, closed best to win by a head. Vision in Gold was another half-length back in third.

Miss Match was timed in 1:47.33 for 1 1/8 miles on the fast main track. Garrett Gomez rode the winner for trainer Neil Drysdale.

Miss Match was purchased by Australian Matthew Cloros at the November Keeneland sale and turned over to Drysdale. She had been trained by Michael Matz until then. Miss Match is now 2 for 2 with Drysdale, and has won 6 of 20 lifetime.

“We were hoping for a fast pace and that she would come running,” Drysdale said.