02/26/2011 8:08PM

Ultra Blend gets perfect trip to take Valentine Dancer

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Benoit Photo
Ultra Blend gives jockey Joel Rosario his 12th stakes win of the Santa Anita meet.

ARCADIA, Calif. - Ultra Blend gave jockey Joel Rosario his 12th stakes win of the Santa Anita winter-spring meeting in Saturday's $100,000 Valentine Dancer Handicap.

Rosario's decision to guide Ultra Blend wide on the turn proved to be the difference. Ultra Blend ($4.60) had an easy trip, while runner-up Evening Jewel, the 4-5 favorite, was stuck behind horses to early stretch and could not catch the winner in the stretch, losing by 1 1/4 lengths. Ultra Blend ran a mile in 1:35.58.

Trainer Art Sherman thought Ultra Blend could hold off Evening Jewel in the final furlong.
"When she hooks a horse, she goes," Sherman said. "You have to run by her to beat her."

There were four starters in the race for statebred females. La Nez finished third, followed by Camille C. The Valentine Dancer Handicap was scheduled for turf but was transferred to the main track because of rain on Friday and early Saturday. As a result, there were seven scratches from an original field of 11.

Ultra Blend, who carried 123 pounds, two fewer than Evening Jewel, was last for the first half-mile, tracking Camille C, who set an early pace of 24.08 and 48.20 seconds. Rosario moved Ultra Blend closer to the leaders entering the turn.

Owned by Nels Erickson, Ultra Blend, 5, has won 8 of 19 starts and $460,646. She was third behind Evening Jewel in the Sunshine Millions Distaff here on Jan. 29, but won three stakes last year, a campaign highlighted by a win in the California Cup Matron at Hollywood Park in October.

Rosario leads all jockeys at this meeting in stakes wins. He is seven shy of the record for a single meeting, which is shared by Laffit Pincay, Jr., and Corey Nakatani.