12/26/2013 6:33PM

Santa Anita: Stevens guides Heir Kitty to 13-1 upset in La Brea

Benoit & Associates
Heir Kitty, ridden by Gary Stevens, earns her first stakes victory in the La Brea for 3-year-old fillies.

ARCADIA, Calif. – When racing was last at Santa Anita, a little less than two months ago, jockey Gary Stevens was seemingly completing a dream year with victories in the Breeders’ Cup Classic and Breeders’ Cup Distaff on consecutive days.

Turns out, the year wasn’t complete for Stevens.

On opening day of Santa Anita’s newest and longest meeting on Thursday, Stevens picked up right where he left off at this track by winning the first Grade 1 race of the meet, the $300,250 La Brea Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, with the 13-1 shot Heir Kitty.

Heir Kitty ($28.20) got a perfect trip under Stevens, who sat third on the rail behind two dueling leaders during the first portion of the seven-furlong race. As the field moved around the far turn, Stevens brought Heir Kitty around leaders Sweet Lulu and Journey On, and Heir Kitty pounced, but Sweet Lulu would not go down without a spirited fight, though Heir Kitty edged clear late to win by 1 1/4 lengths.

Sweet Lulu, the 4-5 favorite, finished second, 2 1/2 lengths in front of Executiveprivilege. My Happy Face was fourth and was followed, in order, by Journey On and Madame Cactus. Miss Lucky Sevens was scratched earlier in the day.

Racing over a fast dirt track that was playing faster than par on a gorgeous, 80-degree day, Heir Kitty completed seven furlongs in 1:21.47.

“I was confident from the time we left the starting gate,” said Stevens, who said Heir Kitty was eager throughout.

Heir Kitty, a daughter of Wildcat Heir, has now won 4 of 14 starts. The La Brea was her first stakes win. She was coming off a victory in a second-level allowance, against males, at Betfair Hollywood Park on Nov. 29.

Peter Miller trains Heir Kitty for David Bernsen and Paul Makin.

Miller said that after Heir Kitty’s final work for the La Brea, Stevens said, “The last horse who worked like this was Beholder before the Breeders’ Cup.”

“I told him, ‘I don’t know what you’re taking, but I want some,’ ” Miller said. “But he meant it. And she showed up today.”

Miller said he was torn as to what to do next with Heir Kitty. The two options are staying with her own age group, but having to go two turns, in the Grade 2, $200,000 La Canada on Jan. 19, or staying in a seven-furlong race, but having to face elders like Teddy’s Promise, in the Grade 2, $200,000 Santa Monica on Jan. 25.

“Seven-eighths hits her right between the eyes,” Miller said.