04/17/2013 3:12PM

Santa Anita: One-time claimer The Only Key fits in Grade 2 Santa Barbara

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The Only Key won a $20,000 claiming race on turf at Golden Gate Fields on Jan. 13. Three months later, she starts in Saturday’s $150,000 Santa Barbara Handicap on turf, with an excellent chance to finish in the top three in the Grade 2 race over 1 1/4 miles.

Owned by former Santa Anita president Ron Charles, The Only Key is trained by Dean Greenman. A 7-year-old mare, The Only Key has won 5 of 22 starts and $97,443. She won an optional claimer over 1 1/4 miles on turf here April 5. The Santa Barbara will be her first start in a stakes since she finished 13th of 17 in a minor stakes at Doncaster, England, in November 2011.

Greenman said that Charles insisted on starting The Only Key in the claimer in January in an attempt to boost the mare’s enthusiasm for racing.

“She needed to win,” Greenman said. “We took a shot and we wanted to build up her heart. Luckily, there were no takers.”

The Santa Barbara had seven nominees, and all of them entered. The race is led by Lady of Shamrock, who won two Grade 1 races last year – the American Oaks and Del Mar Oaks. She was second in the Grade 2 Santa Ana Stakes over 1 1/8 miles on March 24.

Autism Awareness sustains fatal injury

Autism Awareness, winner of two graded stakes in Northern California, was euthanized Sunday after suffering sesamoid injuries in a turf sprint.

Autism Awareness was racing at the back of the field of nine when he was injured.

Autism Awareness, 8, won 5 of 39 starts and $356,732. A gelding owned by Johnny Taboada and trained by Genaro Vallejo, Autism Awareness won the Grade 3 El Camino Real Derby at Bay Meadows in 2008 and the Grade 3 Berkeley Stakes at Golden Gate Fields in 2009.