01/25/2014 5:14PM

Santa Anita: Scherzinger wins Santa Monica in stakes debut

Benoit & Associates
Scherzinger, with Mike Smith aboard, wins the Grade 2 Santa Monica Stakes by a length Saturday.

ARCADIA, Calif. – As one career ended in Saturday’s $200,250 Santa Monica Stakes at Santa Anita another showed that it is just beginning with ample promise.

Scherzinger ($10.60) won her stakes debut in the Grade 2 Santa Monica for female sprinters, the final start for the seven-time stakes winner Teddy’s Promise, who finished third in the field of six.

Scherzinger ran seven furlongs in 1:22 under jockey Mike Smith, who displayed remarkable patience to keep the 4-year-old filly in contention.

Scherzinger led on the backstretch, through an opening quarter-mile in 23 seconds, but yielded the lead to 7-5 favorite Teddy’s Promise when jockey Victor Espinoza guided her to the outside of Scherzinger with more than a half-mile remaining.

Teddy’s Promise led by a half-length after a half-mile in 45.48 seconds and by 1 1/2 lengths with a furlong remaining. Scherzinger, third on the turn, raced on the inside in early stretch before Smith asked his mount for a run. Scherzinger responded and caught Teddy’s Promise in the final furlong to win by a length over 9-2 Iotapa. Teddy’s Promise finished a half-length behind Iotapa, losing second late.

“I hope the racing fans appreciate that they saw an extraordinary ride by Mike Smith,” winning trainer Jerry Hollendorfer said.

Heir Kitty, the winner of the Grade 1 La Brea Stakes for 3-year-old fillies on Dec. 26, finished fourth, followed by Winding Way and Lexington Pearl.

Scherzinger, by Tiz Wonderful, races for Hollendorfer, Mark DeDomenico, Jason Litt, and Alex Solis II. The Santa Monica was her fourth win in seven starts. Scherzinger has earned $245,374. With the exception of a seventh-place finish in an allowance race on turf at Hollywood Park in November,

Scherzinger has won four consecutive races on dirt and synthetic tracks since returning from an eight-month layoff in late August.

“We thought she deserved a shot to run seven-eighths,” Hollendorfer said. “We didn’t know if she could beat Teddy’s Promise.”

Teddy’s Promise, a 6-year-old mare by Salt Lake, ends her career with 11 wins in 29 starts and earnings of $906,397. Owned by breeders Ted and Judy Nichols, Teddy’s Promise won the Grade 1 La Brea in 2011 and the Santa Monica Stakes last year. She will be bred to Smart Strike in the coming months.