03/15/2014 8:01PM

Santa Anita: Let Faith Arise takes Santa Margarita Stakes

Benoit & Associates
Let Faith Arise and jockey Corey Nakatani win the Grade 1 Santa Margarita Stakes by 1 3/4 lengths Saturday.

ARCADIA, Calif. – Let Faith Arise was second in a pair of Grade 2 stakes earlier this meet and finally broke through for her first graded stakes victory at a most opportune time Saturday, capturing the Grade 1, $350,500 Santa Margarita Stakes, the championship race of the meet for older fillies and mares.

Let Faith Arise ($10.60) volleyed for the early lead with Fiftyshadesofhay, put that rival away at the top of the stretch, staved off a bid from 7-5 favorite Iotapa, and drew clear late to win by 1 3/4 lengths.

Iotapa finished a half-length in front of Stanwyck. Spellbound was fourth and was followed by Yahilwa, Fiftyshadesofhay, and Macha.

Let Faith Arise completed 1 1/8 miles on the fast main track in 1:48.70.

Let Faith Arise began her career in Northern California, where she made her first five starts sprinting on the synthetic Tapeta surface at Golden Gate Fields. Since coming to Southern California, moving to dirt, and stretching out around two turns, she was second Jan. 25 in the Grade 2 La Canada to Spellbound and second Feb. 15 in the Grade 2 Santa Maria to Iotapa before beating both in the Santa Margarita.

“She’s a very willing filly, and she’s kept going forward for Jerry and Dan,” said winning rider Corey Nakatani, referring to trainer Jerry Hollendorfer and his local assistant, Dan Ward. “Jerry thought it may have been quick back into her most recent race, but she’s been training well coming into this race, and she only kept getting better.”

Hollendorfer said Nakatani made a smart decision to go to the lead, even though that wasn’t the plan.

“Since she broke well, Corey let her run and keep running,” Hollendorfer said. “That was the right decision, obviously.”

Let Faith Arise, 4, is a daughter of Kafwain and a homebred for the Tommy Town Thoroughbreds of Tom and Debi Stull. It was their first Grade 1 win.