02/10/2007 12:00AM

Sugar Shake steals Santa Maria


ARCADIA, Calif. - A slow pace helped Sugar Shake extend her winning streak to three in Saturday’s $250,000 Santa Maria Handicap for older fillies and mares.

Allowed to set an uncontested lead through early fractions of 24.10 and 48.57 seconds, Sugar Shake won the Grade 1 Santa Maria by 1 3/4 lengths over Ermine, the 2-1 favorite. Ridden by David Flores, Sugar Shake ($8.20) ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.89.

Flores had Sugar Shake in front by 1 1/2 lengths on the backstretch. The margin was a length in early stretch when Sugar Shake began extending her lead.

"She just rebroke again and it was a great feeling," Flores said. "She went to another gear."

Ermine, the winner of the Grade 2 Falls City Handicap at Churchill Downs last November, had every chance to catch Sugar Shake but could not make up ground in the last quarter-mile.

Rahys' Appeal finished third in the field of eight.

Sugar Shake has won 5 of 11 starts and $358,256 for Stronach Stables and trainer Bobby Frankel. A 4-year-old filly, Sugar Shake won her first stakes in the Grade 2 El Encino Stakes here last month.