04/09/2011 4:53PM

Santa Anita: La Cienegas has upset winner

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Benoit & Associates
Separate Forest, with Patrick Valenzuela up, holds off Unzip Me to win the La Cienegas.

ARCADIA, Calif. - Separate Forest, claimed for $25,000 in January, won her stakes debut in Saturday's $100,000 Las Cienegas Handicap at Santa Anita, upsetting 3-5 Unzip Me.

Separate Forest ($13.80) was ridden by Patrick Valenzuela and carried 118 pounds, nine fewer than Unzip Me, the topweight.

Valenzuela had Separate Forest on the lead from the start of the Grade 3 Las Cienegas on the hillside turf course. Separate Forest set quick fractions of 21.78 and 43.58 seconds and held off a late threat from Unzip Me to win by a neck. Separate Forest ran about 6 1/2 furlongs on turf in 1:12.64.

Valenzuela felt confident about Separate Forest's chances after she crossed onto the oval portion of the turf course with a two-length lead.

"She loves the hillside course," Valenzuela said. "I wanted to get away [from Unzip Me] and did. I had plenty of filly under me."

Unzip Me, who won two turf sprint stakes earlier at the meeting, finished 1 1/4 lengths in front of La Nez in the field of seven fillies and mares.

"It was a lot of weight to carry," said Marty Jones, who trains Unzip Me.

Separate Forest races for Pablo Suarez, Westside Rentals.com, and Darin Tsukashima. Trained by Doug O'Neill, Separate Forest has won 3 of 4 starts since being claimed, with the wins coming in a $40,000 claimer in February and a first-condition allowance race on the hillside turf course on April 2.

Separate Forest, a 4-year-old by Forestry, has won 5 of 9 starts and $161,500.