10/22/2011 5:50PM

Santa Anita: Front-running Ismene holds off favored Sister Moon in Anoakia

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Benoit & Associates
Ismene wins the $88,400 Anoakia Stakes by a length over heavily favored Sister Moon.

ARCADIA, Calif. - Ismene took the track leaving the gate with an aggressive ride from jockey Patrick Valenzuela, and she was able to stave off a late run from heavily favored Sister Moon to capture the $88,400 Anoakia Stakes for 2-year-old fillies on Saturday at Santa Anita.

Sister Moon was the 1-5 favorite off her impressive maiden win at Del Mar, but her rally from fifth in the six-horse field came up short by one length. Ismene had a 2 1/2-length lead at mid-stretch following fractions of 21.92 seconds for a half-mile and 44.30 seconds for a half-mile, and she never was in danger despite the diminishing margin in the final furlong. Ismene completed six furlongs on the fast main track in 1:08.91.

"She could be anything, this filly," Valenzuela said in the winner's circle to Stephen Ferraro, a former trainer who is the breeder and owner of Ismene.

Ismene ($16.40), the third choice at 7-1, had won her lone start at Del Mar against California-breds. This was her second start, and her first in open company.

Bill Spawr, who trains Ismene, has known Ferraro since their days at Downey High School. Spawr credited Ferraro with allowing him the time he needed to space the filly's races.

"She's got some attitude," Spawr said. "We work with her with people and ponies, and it paid off today."

Sister Moon finished 7 3/4 lengths in front of third-place Evelyn's Dancer.