01/15/2012 7:49PM

Santa Anita: Ellafitz extends dominance of front-runners in Paseana

Benoit & Associates
Ellafitz, ridden by Martin Garcia, collects her second straight stakes win in the Paseana Handicap.

ARCADIA, Calif. - Only pacesetters were successful in weekend stakes at Santa Anita.

After Tapizar won Saturday’s Sham Stakes for 4-year-olds and Reneesgotzip won the Santa Ynez Stakes for 3-year-old sprinters early on Sunday, Ellafitz led throughout Sunday’s eighth race, the $83,000 Paseana Handicap for fillies and mares.

Ridden by Martin Garcia, Ellafitz ($7.40) set a moderate pace of 23.25 and 46.44 seconds for the first half-mile, and pulled away to win the race over 1 1/16 miles by 4 1/4 lengths. Owned by David and Ella Sivage and trained by Bob Baffert, Ellafitz won her second consecutive stakes in the Paseana, having won the Grade 2 Bayakoa Handicap at Hollywood Park on Dec. 4.

Garcia took command of the race from the start, guiding Ellafitz to the lead from post 5 in the field of seven. She was a half-length in front of eventual fifth-place finisher Briecat for the first half-mile.

“I just let her run,” Garcia said. “When I had a chance, I let her open up. She’s been running so good. This is the toughest she’s been.”

A 5-year-old mare by Tiznow, Ellafitz was timed in 1:43.67. Downhill Diva, the second-longest shot in the field at 19-1, closed from fifth to finish a clear second, 4 3/4 lengths in front of 9-1 Spirit Seeker in third.

The disappointment in the field was Vision in Gold, the winner of the Grade 2 Santa Maria Stakes last February. Making her first start since March, Vision in Gold was sent off at 4-5. She was third for the first six furlongs but faded through the stretch to finish sixth, 11 1-2 lengths behind the winner.

Ellafitz has won 5 of 13 starts and $277,957. She could return for the $200,000 Santa Maria Stakes over 1 1/16 miles for fillies and mares on Feb. 18.