03/12/2006 1:00AM

Strong Faith wins Muir Woods Stakes


ALBANY, Calif. - Strong Faith ($12.20), claimed for $32,000 in her last start, sat off a brisk pace and made an explosive move in the stretch to capture the $42,850 Muir Woods Overnight Stakes on Sunday at Golden Gate Fields.

Strong Faith was last early as Marla Bay set the pace under pressure from Eleanor Rose in the 1 1/16-mile race switched from the turf to the sloppy main track. She wound up beating Eleanor Rose by three lengths in 1:42.11 with her strong stretch run. Marla Bay was third.

"On the turn, I had so much horse that I just went to the outside because I didn't want to get trapped," winning jockey Roberto Gonzalez said. "When I asked her, boy, did she take off."

Trainer John Martin said Mark Saleby picked out the 5-year-old mare to be claimed. He and Saleby considered scratching her when the race was moved, but she had worked so well on a sloppy track last week, they decided to run.

Strong Faith's first stakes victory was worth $22,450. She has earned $145,153 with six wins in 30 starts. Gonzalez has been aboard for her past four victories.