05/10/2009 11:00PM

Witty outduels Carlsbad in Railbird

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By Brad Free

INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Witty is versatile, and Carlsbad was not. That was the difference Sunday at Hollywood Park, where Witty stayed unbeaten after three starts with a perfect-trip victory over previously undefeated Carlsbad in the Grade 3 Railbird Stakes for 3-year-old fillies.

The seven-furlong race was the first graded stakes for Witty ($4.80), whose willingness to rate behind a suicidal pace led to the 1 1/2-length victory over Carlsbad. Will O Way finished a head back in third. The final time was a respectable 1:21.74.

Carlsbad, favored at 1.30-1 after five wins, was hounded through severe fractions by Strawberry Tart. Carlsbad raced the opening quarter-mile in 21.82, and the opening half-mile in a blazing 44.05. Meanwhile, jockey Victor Espinoza kept Witty tucked alone in third, he guided her off the rail into the lane, they engaged Carlsbad nearing midstretch, and pulled clear late.

"She's improving every time and she might be something special," Espinoza said. "I knew they were going pretty quick up there and it set up very nicely for us."

Richard Mandella trains Witty, a Distorted Humor filly who is a half-sister to Grade 1 winner Well Armed. Considering her pedigree and flexible running style, Witty should be able to stretch out. Mandella, who was winning the Railbird for the fourth time, did not say where Witty would start next. The next main-track stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Hollywood is the Grade 2 Hollywood Oaks, a 1 1/16-mile race on June 7.

The order of finish in the Railbird was completed by Ultra Blend, Strawberry Tart and Burg Berg. Pretty Unusual, Lady Lumberjack and Music Magic scratched.