01/02/2012 9:16PM

Santa Anita: Mizdirection closes strongly to take Monrovia

Benoit & Associates
Garrett Gomez collects his third stakes win in the first two days of 2012 aboard Mizdirection in the Monrovia.

ARCADIA, Calif.- Mizdirection won her first graded stakes in Monday’s $100,000 Monrovia Stakes, giving sports talk show host Jim Rome his first graded stakes win as an owner and leaving trainer Mike Puype optimistic that the filly can show further improvement.

Ridden by the red-hot Garrett Gomez, who won his third stakes win in two days, Mizdirection ($8.40) ran about 6 1/2 furlongs on the hillside turf course in 1:11.64, finishing 1 3/4 lengths in front of 28-1 Wild Mia. Separate Forest, who set a torrid pace of 21 and 42.75 seconds, finished in a dead heat for third with 6-5 favorite Unzip Me.

Gomez had Mizdirection in sixth and then fifth on the hillside, farther back than expected. She moved into third, within 3 1/2 lengths of Separate Forest with a furlong remaining, and finished extremely well.

“I didn’t expect to have that many horses in front of me,” Gomez said. “I dropped her head and let her place herself. I didn’t want to hold her up too long when we got over the dirt.”

The win left Puype thinking about the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint here in November.

“She’ll sprint with anyone on the turf the way she ran today,” Puype said in the winner’s circle. “They were flying and she kicked it in. I couldn’t have been more pleased with her effort and the way Garret rode her.”

Unzip Me finished a nose behind Wild Mia for second. Unzip Me was fourth early and as close as second in the stretch, but was outrun late under jockey Rafael Bejarano.

“He said he had to move a little quick and that they were flying the first part,” Jones said of Bejarano’s post-race comments. “She got a little tired.”

Rome is part of the partnership that owns Mizdirection, a 4-year-old filly by Mizzen Mast. Last year, Mizdirection won the Sandy Blue Handicap at Del Mar and was second in two stakes. Overall in her career, she has won 4 of 8 starts and $255,711.