03/31/2012 4:58PM

Santa Anita Oaks has upset winner in Willa B Awesome

Benoit & Associates
Willa B Awesome (left), with Martin Pedroza riding, edges Reneesgotzip to win the Santa Anita Oaks.

ARCADIA, Calif. - Willa B Awesome closed from third in a field of five to catch pacesetter Reneesgotzip for an upset win in Saturday's $300,000 Santa Anita Oaks.

The result was a milestone win for the four-person partnership and trainer Walther Solis, their first win in a Grade 1 race. The result did little to clarify the chances of some of the West Coast's leading hopes for the Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs on May 4.

Willa B Awesome finished a nose in front of Reneesgotzip, who was 1 1/2 lengths clear of 1-2 favorite Eden's Moon. Eden's Moon and Reneesgotzip were first and second in the Grade 1 Las Virgenes Stakes here on March 3, with Willa B Awesome fourth in that field.

In the Santa Anita Oaks over 1 1/16 miles, Reneesgotzip set the pace, put away Eden's Moon in early stretch, but could not hold off Willa B Awesome, who had an ideal trip under jockey Martin Pedroza. Willa B Awesome ($29.20) closed from three lengths off the pace in the stretch to reach the front in the final stride, finishing in 1:42.47.

"My heart was going thump, thump, thump," co-owner and breeder Terry Lovingier, patting his chest. "I wasn't sure if we got there.

"I think this filly will grind it out. When she gets beat, she gets stopped. I don't know if she's the quickest horse but she can carry that pace."

Lovingier bred Willa B Awesome in California and co-owns the filly with Phil Daniels, Patsy London and John Winters.

The loss left trainer Peter Miller disappointed that Reneesgotzip led every jump but the last, and left jockey Martin Garcia confused why Eden's Moon showed no rally in the stretch. Both remain candidates for the Kentucky Oaks.

Reneesgotzip set a strong pace of 23.41 and 46.81 seconds, leading by as much as 2 1-2 lengths in the stretch. She was closely followed by Eden's Moon to early stretch before that filly faded.

"She never got a breather," Miller said of Reneesgotzip. "Eden's Moon kept the pressure on her. We got nailed on the line."

Jockey Garrett Gomez, riding Reneesgotzip for the first time, described the filly as "really fast.  I was hoping to get a slower pace, but the pressure came early," he said.

Eden's Moon was under a drive with a quarter-mile remaining, which surprised Garcia.

"She's better than that," he said. "She relaxed but at the three-eighths I needed to be closer and I didn't have any horse."

Willa B Awesome, by Awesome Gambler, has won 4 of 12 starts and $428,896. She has won three stakes, including the Barretts Debutante at Fairplex Park last September and the Grade 3 Santa Ysabel Stakes here in January.

Lovingier said the Kentucky Oaks or the $300,000 Melair Stakes for California-bred fillies at Hollywood Park on April 28 will be considered for Willa B Awesome's next start.