Updated on 09/18/2011 12:23AM

Star Parade victorious in Santa Maria

Star Parade wins the Grade 1, $250,000 Santa Maria Handicap at Santa Anita Park on Saturday.

ARCADIA, Calif. - Trainer Darrell Vienna is never quite sure whether Star Parade is going to run one of her better races, or turn in a somnambulant performance. She always trains strongly, but sometimes that does not translate in the afternoon.

On Saturday at Santa Anita, though, Star Parade did not sleepwalk. She put her rivals in a trance. Star Parade, on the bit and eager from the outset, took the lead at the top of the stretch and turned back a mid-stretch bid from favored Proposed to capture the Grade 1, $250,000 for older fillies and mares.

The result was the reciprocal of her last start, the San Gorgonio Handicap on turf on Jan. 8, in which Star Parade finished last.

On Saturday, Star Parade ($7.80) won by two lengths over Proposed, who was 2 3/4 lengths better than Hollywood Story. Both the second- and third-place finishers are trained by John Shirreffs.

Heavenly Humor led from the start, but Star Parade was right on her hip until surging to the lead at the top of the stretch after fractions of 22.99 seconds, 46.24 seconds, and 1:10.35 for the first six furlongs. Proposed, who needed to be asked a bit down the backstretch to keep up, bravely knifed between horses to threaten, but Star Parade held her safe.

"Sometimes she acts like maybe she's all done, but if you keep after her, she'll give you a lot more," said winning rider Martin Pedroza. "We just threw out her last race on turf."

Star Parade completed 1 1/16 miles on the fast main track in 1:42.31.

"She always shows a tremendous amount of talent training. She's never trained poorly," Vienna said, "but sometimes it just doesn't happen."

Vienna trains Star Parade for owner Gary Tanaka. Now 7, Star Parade has won eight times in 29 starts, and the $150,000 winner's share put her past the $1-million mark in career earnings, at $1,085,419.

Vienna said Star Parade is aiming for the Grade 1, $500,000 Apple Blossom Handicap at Oaklawn Park on April 8. Before that, though, she could run in the Grade 1, $300,000 Santa Margarita Invitational Handicap at Santa Anita on March 11.