01/20/2004 12:00AM

Sweet Return steals another one

Yearly Report ($6.20) with Jerry Bailey riding wins the $150,000 Santa Ynez Stakes by four lengths.

ARCADIA, Calif. - The jockeys who ride Sweet Return wear the white silks with red dots of John Brunetti's Red Oak Stable. They ought to add a bank robber's mask, too. For the second straight time, Sweet Return scored a gate-to-wire upset victory in a 1 1/4-mile grass race, this time in Monday's Grade 2, $150,000 San Marcos Handicap at Santa Anita.

Sweet Return had utilized similar strategy to win the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby on Nov. 30. Julie Krone rode him that day, but since she is still sidelined as the result of an accident last month, Gary Stevens - who had ridden Sweet Return twice previously - took over for the San Marcos.

Sweet Return ($15.80) broke from the far outside post 9, a distinct disadvantage with the race starting on the turn. Despite that, Sweet Return was able to make the top through moderate fractions of 23.72 seconds for the first quarter-mile, 47.98 seconds for a half-mile, and 1:12.26 for the first six furlongs.

The race was over. Sweet Return threw a 23.50-second fourth quarter at his rivals, then flew through the final quarter in 23.06 seconds. Nothing to Lose, making his first start in 11 months, tried valiantly, but he could never get past Sweet Return, who won by a half-length in 1:58.82 for 1 1/4 miles on firm going.

Blue Steller, like Nothing to Lose trained by Bobby Frankel, finished third, another 1 1/2 lengths behind. Fairly Ransom, who had finished second to Sweet Return - his Ron McAnally-trained stablemate - in the Hollywood Derby, finished sixth as the 8-5 favorite.

McAnally theorized that Sweet Return benefited again by the soft early pace, and that Fairly Ransom may have resented the firm condition of the grass.

"I told Gary I thought there was no speed, and he agreed," McAnally said. "The other horse might want a little more give in the ground."

Sweet Return, a British-bred 4-year-old colt by Elmaamul, has won four times in 15 starts. He is 3 for 10 since being imported by McAnally one year ago.

Santa Ynez: Yearly Report by four

Yearly Report and House of Fortune are both eligible to run in Saturday's Sunshine Millions, but their connections did not want to ship them across the country to Gulfstream Park.

Instead, the two California-bred 3-year-old fillies remained at Santa Anita for Monday's Grade 3, $150,000 Santa Ynez Stakes, in which they ran one-two, with Yearly Report winning by four lengths.

Yearly Report covered the seven furlongs on the fast main track in 1:21.11, stakes-record time. House of Fortune ran a super race, too, finishing 4 1/2 lengths clear of third place Papa to Kinzie. Whoopi Cat, making her first start since her victory in last summer's Adirondack Stakes at Saratoga, finished sixth in the field of eight.

Rahy Dolly, sent off the 2-1 favorite following her second-place finish in the Hollywood Starlet, faded after rushing up along the rail and finished fifth.

Papa to Kinzie broke fastest and sped through fractions of 22.03 seconds for the opening quarter-mile and 44.28 seconds for a half-mile. Yearly Report, racing just behind the leaders down the backside, moved sharply to engage Papa to Kinzie while rounding the turn. House of Fortune tried to go with Yearly Report, but could not keep up. Yearly Report took over with a furlong remaining, and after covering six furlongs in 1:08.59 she drew away from her rivals.

Yearly Report ($6.20) won her debut at Hollywood Park on Nov. 29, then finished second to Silent Sighs in the California Breeders' Champion Stakes on Dec. 27. Silent Sighs scratched from the Santa Ynez in order to compete at Gulfstream on Saturday.

Jerry Bailey rode Yearly Report, a daughter of General Meeting who was bred by Betty Mabee and the late John Mabee and is owned by Betty Mabee's Golden Eagle Farm. She is trained by Bob Baffert.

"The boss said to stay home," winning trainer Bob Baffert said, referring to Mabee. "She likes to stay in California, and I didn't argue with her."

Mabee's son, Larry, represented Golden Eagle in the winner's circle. While walking away from the winner's circle after photos were taken, Mabee took a cell-phone call from his mother.

"Mother said she's glad we stayed in California," Mabee shouted to Baffert.