01/28/2012 7:49PM

Santa Anita: Home Sweet Aspen outfights Sugarinthemorning to capture Santa Monica

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Benoit & Associates
Homesweetaspen (right), ridden by Joel Rosario, finishes a neck in front of Sugarinthemorning in the Grade 1 Santa Monica.

ARCADIA, Calif. - This much was clear after Home Sweet Aspen finished a neck in front of Sugarinthemorning in the $300,000 Santa Monica Stakes at Santa Anita. Both 4-year-old fillies ran the best races of their career to finish first and second.

Home Sweet Aspen ($13.60) led or disputed the pace throughout the Grade 1 race over seven furlongs and won narrowly after racing on the inside in the stretch-long duel. Winning jockey Joel Rosario said he was confident in early stretch that Home Sweet Aspen would prevail.

 “She was going pretty easy,” Rosario said. “I hadn’t asked her yet.”

He certainly asked her in deep stretch. Home Sweet Aspen led by a half-length over Rumor after the two had dueled through a half-mile in a modest 22.70 and 45.42 seconds. In early stretch, Sugarinthemorning moved into second to reach contention but could not get by Home Sweet Aspen.

She’s Cheeky, third in the 2009 Santa Monica Handicap, closed from last to finish third, followed by Big Tiz, Teddy’s Promise, Rumor, and Bella Diamante. Teddy’s Promise, the winner of the Grade 1 La Brea Stakes against Home Sweet Aspen here on Dec. 31, broke slowly and was in traffic along the rail behind Home Sweet Aspen in early stretch, essentially losing all chance.

Rumor, the 2-1 favorite, was well-placed for the first half-mile and faded through the stretch to be well-beaten.

“It’s back to the drawing board,” said Richard Mandella, who trains Rumor.

Home Sweet Aspen, a filly by Candy Ride, won her first graded stakes in the Santa Monica. Owned by Jenny Craig and trained by John Sadler, Home Sweet Aspen won the restricted Louis Rowan Stakes here in October, but was seventh in the Cool Air Stakes on turf at Hollywood Park on Dec. 7 and fourth in the La Brea.

“I think she’s a really good sprinting filly,” Sadler said. “I felt she was capable and she got a good trip.

Bred by Craig, Home Sweet Aspen has won 4 of 9 starts and $355,822.