Updated on 09/17/2011 10:56AM

Starrer victorious in Santa Maria

Starrer ($4.20) wins the $200,000 Santa Maria Handicap by 4 1/2 lengths at Santa Anita on Sunday, her second consecutive stakes victory.

ARCADIA, Calif. - Showing that she is in the best form of her career, Starrer won her second consecutive stakes in Sunday's $200,000 at Santa Anita.

The victory was the 5-year-old Starrer's first success in a Grade 1 and the first win at that level for owner George Krikorian.

Benefiting from a ground-saving trip under Patrick Valenzuela, Starrer drew off in the stretch to win by 4 1/2 lengths over You, a top 3-year-old of 2002. Rhiana finished third in the field of five fillies and mares, followed by Printemps and Se Me Acabo.

Starrer ($4.20) finished 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.75 on a good main track.

Starrer was third for the first half of the race, but appeared to be eager to go to the front in the first turn. Valenzuela guided her into a stalking position behind Se Me Acabo, who set an early pace of 23.02 and 46.36 seconds.

"I was very lucky to keep her calm in the first part because she was very keen to go on," Valenzuela said. "I brought her back a couple of lengths off the pace and at that point I knew I could put her anywhere I wanted."

Staying on the rail on the backstretch, Starrer took the lead from Se Me Acabo on the final turn, but was quickly joined by You. It was a short battle. By early stretch, Starrer had pulled clear.

"She's not the easiest horse to ride," Valenzuela said. "But once you get to know her and she trusts you, she makes riding her easier."

Trained by John Shirreffs, Starrer has won 5 of 19 starts and $863,033. The Santa Maria was her first start of 2003. In December, she won the Bayakoa Handicap at Hollywood Park.