03/31/2013 5:09PM

Santa Anita: Liaison returns from long layoff to take Santana Mile

Benoit & Associates
Liaison, racing for the first time since last summer's Travers, scores by a half-length with Martin Garcia aboard in the Santana Mile.

ARCADIA, Calif. - Liaison, who was sixth in the Kentucky Derby last year, won his first start since August in Sunday’s $71,500 Santana Mile at Santa Anita.

Ridden by Martin Garcia, Liaison ($9) closed from third in a field of five and held off a sustained threat from 6-5 favorite Midnight Transfer to win by a half-length. Liaison ran a mile on the main track in 1:36.36.

“He showed some fight,” trainer Bob Baffert said. “This is a good start. I think he’ll be a good handicap horse.”

Midnight Transfer finished 1 3/4 lengths in front of Tres Borrachos, who was followed by Hoorayforhollywood and Gladding in the field of five.

Prior to Sunday’s race, Liaison had not started since finishing ninth in the Grade 1 Travers Stakes at Saratoga last August. A 4-year-old colt by Indian Charlie, Liaison won two stakes as a 2-year-old at Betfair Hollywood Park – the Real Quiet Stakes and Grade 1 Cashcall Futurity.

Owned by Arnold Zetcher, Liaison has won 4 of 13 starts and $631,794.

Baffert said that Liaison displayed stiffness after the loss in the Travers, leading to the layoff.