ARCADIA, Calif. (Feb. 18, 2010) – A stellar sprinter in her 3-year-old division last year, unbeaten Witty returned from nine months on the sidelines Thursday to pick up where she left off while gaining her fourth victory with a handy 1 ¼-length triumph in Santa Anita’s $55,308 allowance feature for fillies and mares at 6 ½ furlongs.

Bet down to 2-5 favoritism after having last been seen winning Hollywood Park’s Grade III Railbird Stakes over well-regarded Carlsbad on May 10, Witty won her comeback under a vigorous hand ride by Victor Espinoza to cover the distance in 1:15.47.

The 4-year-old daughter of Distorted Humor, trained by Richard Mandella, broke alertly, took back just off the early pace, was sent to the lead on the outside turning for home and crossed the wire with authority.

“This is just what we were expecting,” said Mandella after Witty demonstrated she was her old self following ankle surgery to remove a bone chip. “She had trained good for this,” he added. “I think she’ll stretch out, no problem, but I’m not in a hurry to stretch out right away. She won nice, and she’s always been cooperative.”

Longshot Summers Peace, who set the pace under Joe Talamo, held the place, one length ahead of U R All That I Am and jockey Joel Rosario in the field of six. The early fractions were 22.36, 45.73 and 1:09.17.

Witty, who had been favored in but one of her three previous victories, paid $2.80, $2.80 and $2.10. Summers Peace, who went off at 12-1, returned $10 and $4.20. The show price on U R All That I Am was $2.40.

The winning purse of $31,800 increased Witty’s earnings to $147,600 for the partnership of Ramona Bass, Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider.

Mandella indicated that the Grade III, $100,000 Las Flores Handicap at 6 ½ furlongs on April 4 probably would be next for Witty before stretching her out to two turns.

“Maybe late spring or early summer,” he said. Mandella paused just long enough to summon his droll sense of humor. “Unless we go to Oaklawn,” he exclaimed. “It is $5 million.” But despite her promise, Mandella acknowledged, Witty isn’t about ready to hook up with Zenyatta and Rachel Alexandra just yet.

Santa Anita continues its popular “Free Fridays” promotion on Friday when admission is free as are box seats on a first come, first served basis. Hot dogs, sodas, beer, popcorn and coffee may each be purchased for $1. The eight-race program commences at 1 p.m.