03/09/2013 7:48PM

Santa Anita: Birdlover wires China Doll Stakes

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ARCADIA, Calif. – One race later than hoped, a 3-year-old trained by Doug O’Neill led throughout to win a stakes at Santa Anita on Saturday.

Goldencents set a quick pace in the $300,000 San Felipe Stakes and faded to finish fourth. In the next race, Birdlover ($22.80) set a modest pace and held off 8-1 Magnificent Shirl to win the $77,870 China Doll Stakes for 3-year-old fillies on turf.

“We were hoping to get an easy lead in the seventh race,” O’Neill said, referring to the San Felipe.

Ridden by Edwin Maldonado, Birdlover won by 1 1/2 lengths, running a mile in 1:35.23. Magnificent Shirl finished a half-length in front of 99-1 Akiss Forarose. Flashy Ways was fourth, followed by Sarach, Wittgenstein, Ciao Bella Luna, Sky High Gal, Pussycat Lips, Seolan, Awe Golly Molly, and Secret Motive in the field of 12.

Birdlover set fractions of 23.09 seconds for the opening quarter-mile and 47.75 for the half-mile, holding an advantage of a length. She led by that margin on the turn and was not seriously challenged through the stretch.

“She got easy fractions and had enough to hold on,” O’Neill said.

Birdlover, a British-bred filly by Byron, races for a partnership. A winner of 2 of 7 starts and $84,781, she was fourth in the Grade 3 Miesque Stakes at Betfair Hollywood Park in her American debut last November. In two subsequent starts at this meeting, she ran second in both an optional claimer and an allowance race.