ARCADIA, Calif. -- Malibu Pier shrugged off a threat from Lilly Fa Pootz to win Saturday's $150,000 Santa Ana Stakes at Santa Anita, a race in which her principal rival, Turning Top, slipped severely on the turn.
Malibu Pier ($6) won the Grade 2 race over 1 1/8 miles on turf by a length over Turning Top in 1:48.05. Ridden by Rafael Bejarano, Malibu Pier dueled with Lilly Fa Pootz through early fractions of 23.28 and 46.53 seconds, dropped back by 1 1/2 lengths on the turn and then rallied on the outside of Lilly Fa Pootz to win the first stakes of her career.
Bejarano's tactics to take Malibu Pier off the pace did not concern trainer Carla Gaines, who felt the 4-year-old filly was racing within herself throughout the race.
"She wasn't rank and he wasn't grabbing her," Gaines said of Bejarano. "He just gave her a breather on the turn."
Trainer Simon Callaghan was visibly furious after the race, concerned about the way that Turning Top slipped on the turn when moving toward the leaders under jockey Joel Rosario.
"He said she slipped" on the final turn, Callaghan said. "I thought she was going down."
Turning Top, the 9-5 favorite, dropped back to fourth in early stretch but closed well to finish 1 1/4 lengths clear of third-place finisher Lilly Fa Pootz. Washington Bridge, Eclair de Lune, and It Tiz completed the order of finish.
Eclair de Lune, the winner of the Grade 1 Beverly D Stakes at Arlington Park last August, was beaten 2 1/2 lengths by Malibu Pier. Jockey Chantal Sutherland said that Eclair de Lune slipped twice on the turn.
Malibu Pier, a 4-year-old filly by Malibu Moon, races for B. Wayne Hughes's Spendthrift Farm. She has won 4 of 8 starts and $252,200. Before Saturday, her best previous result in a stakes was a second to Switch in the Grade 1 La Brea Stakes, a seven-furlong sprint on the main track, in December.