02/05/2011 6:46PM

Zazu upsets Turbulent Descent in Las Virgenes

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Benoit & Associates
Zazu (right) holds off Turbulent Descent to win the Las Virgenes.

ARCADIA, Calif. - Zazu beat the heavily favored, and previously unbeaten, Turbulent Descent in Saturday’s Grade 1, $250,000 Las Virgenes Stakes at Santa Anita, a race that winning rider Joel Rosario thought was his with a quarter-mile remaining.

Rosario kept Zazu inside going into the turn and held off a brief threat from Turbulent Descent, who raced three-wide on the turn, to win the race for 3-year-old fillies by 1 1/4 lengths.

“We won the race right there,” Rosario said of his ground-saving trip.

Zazu ($10) ran a mile in 1:34.86, winning the first stakes of her six-race career for owners Jerry and Ann Moss and trainer John Sadler.

“It was a terrific ride,” Sadler said. “He cut the corner and the other filly went wide.”

Both Zazu and Turbulent Descent closed from well off the pace, avoiding the wicked speed duel of 21.58 and 44.25 between May Day Rose and California Nectar that eventually knocked both fillies from contention.

Zazu was always in front of Turbulent Descent, with the pair second and third after six furlongs, chasing May Day Rose, who led at that point by two lengths. Zazu led by a head at the eighth pole, when Turbulent Descent appeared in position to reach the front.

Through the final furlong, Zazu moved away from Turbulent Descent, the 2-5 favorite. The loss surprised trainer Mike Puype. Turbulent Descent, who was ridden by David Flores, had not started since a win in the Grade 1 Hollywood Starlet Stakes at Hollywood Park on Dec. 11.

“David thought she just got tired,” Puype said. “We hadn’t run in eight weeks and the other horse ran a month ago. She looked a little short at the end.”

Plum Pretty, a 15-1 shot, finished third, followed by May Day Rose, California Nectar, and Tiz the Route.

The first two finishers are likely to start in the $250,000 Santa Anita Oaks over 1 1/16 miles on March 5.

Zazu, a gray filly by Tapit, has won 2 of 6 starts and $240,985. After beating maidens in her second start in October, she lost her next three races, finishing second to Turbulent Descent in the Moccasin Stakes and fifth in the Starlet. She was second by a neck in the Grade 2 Santa Ynez Stakes over seven furlongs on Jan. 15, closing from last in a field of seven with a wide trip to just miss catching California Nectar.

“She was the only one closing that day,” Sadler said. “She’s been close.”