02/10/2011 3:36PM

Tornado Betty comes out of top effort into Sunland stakes


Even though Tornado Betty ran seventh by eight lengths in her most recent start, it was arguably the best race of her career. She set a hot pace in the Grade 1 La Brea at Santa Anita on Dec. 26 then was overtaken by Switch, who is one of the top female sprinters in North America.

Tornado Betty, meanwhile, has made her way to New Mexico for the $50,000 El Diario at Sunland Park on Saturday. The 6 1/2-furlong race is for fillies and mares, and it drew a diverse cast of nine that includes She’smylittleman, who is seeking her fifth straight win, and Hayley’s Halo is looking to make it four in a row.

Tornado Betty has raced before at Sunland, but this winter spent some of her time in Southern California. In the La Brea, which was run over seven furlongs, she shot to the lead and took the field through an opening half-mile in 43.80 seconds. Tornado Betty remained close to the pace through six furlongs in 1:07.60, after which her rider lost his stick, according to the trouble line in her past performances. She ended up seventh of 10 but for the effort earned a career-high Beyer Speed Figure of 82.

Tornado Betty, who was 67-1, added blinkers for the La Brea and is to wear them again in the El Diario. She appears to be the speed of the race, but if she does not get the break she has also proven to be effective from off the pace. Miguel Hernandez has the mount for trainer Bart Hone.

The El Diario field includes one other member with Grade 1 experience in Southern California. Miss Heather Lee was second in the 2009 running of the Hollywood Starlet and has since been a regular in New Mexico. She was second to She’smylittleman in the allowance prep for the El Dario.