ARCADIA, Calif. (Feb. 24, 2010) – Alpha Kitten, the 17-10 favorite who hadn’t raced since winning the Grade II Santa Ynez Stakes 13 months before, simply couldn’t catch her more active stablemate, Emmy Darling, in Wednesday’s $49,000 Fair Margarita Purse at Santa Anita as trainer John Sadler saddled the first two finishers.

With Joel Rosario aboard, Emmy Darling sped to the lead early in the six-and-one-half-furlong event for fillies and mares and held Alpha Kitten and jockey Tyler Baze safe by 2 ½ lengths while running the distance in 1:15.36. It was one length back to third-place Zilla in the field of five.

Emmy Darling, a 4-year-old filly owned by Ike and Dawn Thrash, had rallied to finish fifth in the $200,000 Sunshine Millions Filly & Mare Sprint in her previous start on Jan. 30, but the tactics changed on Wednesday.

She hurried through fractions of 44:89 and 1:08.97 while maintaining command. Alpha Kitten, meanwhile, closed steadily from fifth, but never presented a danger to her victorious stablemate.

“I’d give them both a grade of A-minus,” Sadler said afterward. “It was a very good race for Alpha Kitten the first time back after a year layoff and a serious injury. For her to come back and finish well first time out really is what we were looking for. So if they both look good tomorrow, I’m going to be thrilled.”

Emmy Darling paid $7, $2.80 and $2.20 while Alpha Kitten returned $2.60 and $2.20. The show price on Zilla was $3.40.

It was the third win in 15 starts for Emmy Darling, a 4-year-old Florida-bred daughter of Graeme Hall. The winning purse of $29,400 boosted her career earnings to $201,191.

The Fair Margarita marked only the fifth career start for 4-year-old filly Alpha Kitten, a gray daughter of Tale of the Cat owned by Jerry and Ann Moss. She had gone to the sidelines after cracking a cannon bone during a routine gallop. At the time, she had been regarded as one of the leading 3-year-old fillies on the West Coast.

Racing continues on Thursday at Santa Anita with an eight-race program that gets underway at 1 p.m.