ARCADIA, Calif. (March 29, 2009) – Carlsbad, an unbeaten sensation in Arizona’s “Cactus League,” transferred her form to the big leagues Saturday when running away from her opposition in Santa Anita’s 24th running of the Grade III, $100,000 Santa Paula Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at 6 ½ furlongs.

After winning her first four starts at Turf Paradise in Phoenix by a combined 50 ¾ lengths, Carlsbad scored by 3 ¾ lengths over runner-up Ultra Blend while covering the distance in 1:14.65, just four-hundredths of a second off the stakes record.

With Tyler Baze riding for the first time, she accomplished her Southern California victory with style, too, pulling away from stablemate Empressive Lady after the latter had drawn even nearing the far turn.

“This is really a nice filly,” Baze said afterward. He said he had worked the Arizona-bred daughter of Rocky Bar twice for trainer Jeff Mullins. “She does everything right,” he noted.

“Today, she broke like a quarter horse,” Baze continued. “I just sat still on her. I kept her way out in the middle of the track down the backside because I didn’t want to go head and head with Jeff’s other filly (Empressive Lady).

“When we cleared her, I let her drop down to the rail around the turn. She didn’t want to change leads, so I helped her. Then I hit her once left-handed, and she just took off.”

“She transferred her Arizona form pretty good today,” observed Mullins. “We wanted to see if she’d take to the synthetic surface. There were a lot of questions to answer today, and I think she answered them fine.”

The public clearly thought Carlsbad was the genuine article. As the 3-2 favorite, she paid $5, $3.80 and $2.60. Ultra Bend, ridden by Jose Valdivia Jr., paid $7.60 and $4.80 after finishing 3 ¼ lengths ahead of Pinkarella and jockey Rafael Bejarano. The latter returned $3.60 to show in the field of five.

Owned and bred by Dennis Weir, Carlsbad was trained in Arizona by Kevin Lewis before being shifted to Mullins’ barn with her move to Southern California.

For her four devastating victories in Arizona, which included three stakes races, Carlsbad had earned $94,126. She added $60,000 to that total on Sunday.

The co-featured Sensational Star Handicap, a $125,000 event for California-breds at 6 ½ furlongs over Santa Anita’s hillside turf course, went to 2-1 favorite Liberian Freighter with Bejarano in the saddle.

The 4-year-old gelding, trained by Neil Drysdale, tracked the pace of My City by the Bay, spurted clear in midstretch and crossed the wire 1 ½ lengths ahead of 9-1 Mr. Wolverine. It was one length further back to My City by the Bay, third in the field of nine.

The winning time was 1:13.02.

Liberian Freighter, who had been routing in his ten previous starts, paid $6.60, $4 and $2.80. Mr. Wolverine, with Valdivia aboard, paid $8.20 and $5.80. The show price on My City by the Bay, handled by Joe Talamo, was $7.

“He felt so good in the post parade today, and he improved a lot,” said Bejarano. “I knew the other horse (My City by the Bay) would show more speed than me, so I decided to let him go and follow him. When I felt pressure from the other horses coming from behind, I let him go, and he took off. He finished great”

“This horse is versatile, and Bejarano knows him well,” commented John O’Donoghue, the chief assistant to Drysdale. “I don’t have to tell him anything. He does a great job.”

The win was worth $75,000 to the partnership of Shawn Dugan, Charles Winner and the Estate of Eddie Nahem. Liberian Freighter’s career earnings increased to $314,996 from a 5-2-5 record in 14 starts.

After dark days on Monday and Tuesday, racing resumes at Santa Anita on Wednesday with an eight-race program that starts at 1 p.m. Entries will be drawn for Saturday’s 72nd running of the $750,000 Santa Anita Derby that morning during a 10 o’clock ceremony at Clockers’ Corner.