Updated on 09/17/2011 11:49PM

Sharp Lisa foils Eternal Melody by a nose

Email
Horsephotos
Sharp Lisa wins the $250,000 Santa Barbara Handicap at Santa Anita on Saturday.

ARCADIA, Calif. - It took arguably a career-best performance from Sharp Lisa to deny owner Michael Bello and trainer Bobby Frankel a record fourth consecutive win in Saturday's $250,000 at Santa Anita.

Sharp Lisa, who set the pace, held off a late run from Frankel and Bello's representative, Eternal Melody, to win the Grade 2 race by a nose. Ridden by Corey Nakatani, Sharp Lisa ($10.40) ran 1 1/4 miles on turf in 2:02.17.

Eternal Melody, who stalked the pace in fourth place for the first mile, finished 2 1/2 lengths in front of Cissy, who was followed by 3-5 favorite Argentina, Aubonne, and Theater R.N.

The Bello-Frankel team won the Santa Barbara Handicap from 2003-05 with the millionaire Megahertz.

At the top of the stretch, Eternal Melody's jockey, Garrett Gomez said he thought he would win. Eternal Melody was within 1 1/2 lengths of Sharp Lisa and was closing with every stride.

"When we turned for home, those fillies were sprinting," Gomez said. "I couldn't ask her to run any faster."

The margin was essentially the bob of a head. Sharp Lisa set a modest pace of 24.79 and 49.68 seconds, which helped her in the stretch.

"Corey rode this horse beautifully," said winning trainer Doug O'Neill. "He left her with a lot in the tank and she showed the class and heart that she had."

The Santa Barbara was the longest race of Sharp Lisa's 12-race career. The victory ended a five-race losing streak dating back to the Grade 1 Las Virgenes Stakes at a mile on the main track in February 2005.

"The distance didn't seem like an issue," Nakatani said. "She was all business."

The Santa Barbara was Sharp Lisa's first win on turf. She was fourth in the Grade 2 Santa Ana Handicap on March 26 after setting the early pace.

Owned by Paul Reddam, Pablo Suarez, and Mark Schlesinger, Sharp Lisa has earned $597,100. Reddam was relieved that the losing streak had ended with a notable win.

"You could see signs in the last few starts that she was doing better," Reddam said.