02/12/2011 8:38PM

Vision in Gold prevails in three-horse photo in Santa Maria

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BENOIT PHOTO
Vision in Gold and jockey Joel Rosario (right) outrun Zardana (middle) and St Trinians to win the Santa Maria Stakes.

ARCADIA, Calif. -- Jockey Joel Rosario knocked off another heavy favorite on Saturday at Santa Anita when Vision in Gold led from start to finish to score a mild surprise over Zardana and favored St Trinians in the Grade 2, $150,000 Santa Maria Stakes for older fillies and mares.

 In a race with no early speed, it was Rosario who seized the opportunity, sending Vision in Gold ($12.20) to the front, even though she had never had the lead in the first half-mile in her life, which totaled seven starts. She set soft fractions of 23.77 seconds for the opening quarter-mile, 47.80 seconds for a half, and 1:11.64 for six furlongs.

Both Zardana and then St Trinians, the 4-5 choice, loomed menacingly at the eighth pole, but Vision in Gold bravely held them off. She won by a neck over Zardana, with St Trinians another half-length back in the five-horse field.

Vision in Gold was timed in 1:41.55 for 1 1/16 miles on the fast main track. The win was her third in eight starts. She won a first-level allowance on Dec. 30.

Rosario won the Robert Lewis Stakes one hour earlier with Anthony’s Cross.

Vision in Gold is trained by Ron Ellis. Vision in Gold, 4, is owned by the Jay Em Ess Stable of Samantha and Mace Siegel, who removed the highly regarded older horse Rail Trip from Ellis’s care last year and sent him east, where he since has made just one nondescript start for Richard Dutrow Jr.

Samantha Siegel purchased Vision in Gold, a daughter of Medaglia d’Oro, as a yearling for $360,000. Both she and Ellis said Vision in Gold took time to come around.

“She’s growing into her frame,” Ellis said.