03/17/2005 1:00AM

Scrofa captures Irish O'Brien Stakes


ARCADIA, Calif. - Scrofa, under a patient, clever ride by Patrick Valenzuela, knifed her way between horses with less than a furlong to go and got up in time to capture the $140,625 , the traditional St. Patrick's Day feature at Santa Anita.

The Irish O'Brien, a downhill turf sprint named for a popular mare who excelled over that course in the 1980s, is for California-bred fillies and mares. The victory was the third in the last four starts for Scrofa, who has now won four times since trainer Paul Aguirre claimed her for $62,500 in July at Del Mar.

Scrofa ($6.20) was trapped behind horses after turning into the stretch, but she found room one path off the rail and was up time in to beat front-runner Blind Ambition by a half-length. Our Mango was another three-quarters of a length back in third.

"There was an opening between (Mini Skirt and Blind Ambition), so I elected to take it and had a handful of horse," Valenzuela said. "It was easy to do when you have that much horse."

Scrofa was timed in 1:13.08 for the about 6 1/2 furlongs on the firm course.

Scrofa, a 4-year-old filly by Unusual Heat, had finished a close fourth in the Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Turf at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 29. Prior to that, her lone stakes victory came in the Work The Crowd Stakes at Golden Gate on Dec. 26. Aguirre trains Scrofa for Omar Aldabbagh and the STD Racing Stable of Steve Kenly.