DREAM NETTIE UPSETS IN LA PUENTE; WARREN’S PEPE SURPISES IN SANTANA MILE

ARCADIA, Calif. (April 10, 2010) – Racing a distance on turf for the first time, Dream Nettie registered a 9-1 upset Saturday when rallying from just off the pace to defeat Lucky Rave by three-quarters of a length in Santa Anita’s 30th running of the $100,000 La Puente Stakes for 3-year-olds at 1 1/8 miles.

The Kentucky-bred son of Dixie Union, ridden by Joe Talamo, covered the route in 1:48.80 after tracking early leader Ace of Aces and assuming command inside the eighth pole. Lucky Rave, ridden by David Flores, closed strongly for the place, one-half length ahead of Bogie with Alex Solis aboard.

The extended distance and surface change appeared to flatter the bay gelding trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, whom he co-owns in partnership with William de Burgh and George Todaro. Dream Nettie’s only prior turf experience had come earlier this year in a sprint at Santa Anita when he ran sixth. He had won one of four previous starts at 1 1/16 miles over synthetic surfaces.

“We have an improving horse and I think the more distance, the better,” Hollendorfer said in the winner’s circle. “I had a perfect trip,” said Talamo. “I knew we were walking up there, and I almost made a middle move at the half-mile. But I waited and chirped to him at the five-sixteenths, and he jumped into the bridle. He just exploded through the stretch.”

Dream Nettie rewarded his backers with payoffs of $20, $9.20 and $5.80. Lucky Rave paid $6.40 and $4.40. The show price on Bogie was $4.80. Fantastic Pick, the mild 3-1 favorite in the field of eight, was never a factor.

The stakes victory earnings of $60,000 more than doubled what Dream Nettie had banked in his eight previous races while elevating his total to $107,800 from a 3-1-1 showing.

Hall of Fame baseball great Frank Robinson presented the Santana Mile trophy.

In gaining his 12th career victory in his 42nd start, 6-year-old Warren’s Pepe achieved his first stakes victory with a tenacious wire-to-wire win under Martin Pedroza in Saturday’s secondary feature, the $76,110 Santana Mile.

Claimed at Del Mar for $12,500 last August by Lamonte Isom, Warren’s Pepe was making his first start for trainer Julio Canani as he crossed the wire in 1:35.44 while repelling the closing bid of 9-5 favorite Slew’s Tiznow by one-half length.

After making his previous seven starts at Golden Gate Fields, the Santana Mile was only the second Santa Anita start for the California-bred son of Rahy who had finished sixth in Santa Anita’s 2009 Fleet Grounded Handicap at 1 1/16 miles.

Sent off as the 4-1 fourth choice in a field of five, Warren’s Pepe was sent to the front immediately by Pedroza. Tracked by Art Currency, he led through fractions of 24.27, 47.53, 1:10.98 and 1:23. Runner-up Slew’s Tiznow, with Joel Rosario aboard, finished 1 ¼ lengths ahead of Norvsky and jockey Martin Garcia in third.

The winner paid $10.80, $5 and $2.80. Slew’s Tiznow returned $3.80 and $2.60. The show price on Norvsky was $2.80.

“I told him to make the lead,” Canani said in explaining his instructions to Pedroza. “He went easy the first part, and just tried to get away at the end, but you have to get lucky. I was a little worried at the eighth pole, but after that, it was okay.”

“I’ve watched his last couple of races and he broke a little slow,” Pedroza said of the winner. “Today, he broke good, and I wanted to go as slow as I could the first quarter, and it worked out. The first quarter was definitely the key.

“When we came to the half-mile pole, I just decided to let him run and get the jump on the closers – make them come and get me. I don’t ride like that very often, but it worked. It was my only chance to beat these kind of horses.”

The victory was worth $48,690, which increased the career earnings of Warren’s Pepe to $343,176 from a 12-11-6 log in his 42 races.

Defending champion Gotta Have Her is the 2-1 morning line favorite among eight entrants in Sunday’s 36th running of the Grade III, $100,000 Las Cienegas Handicap at 6 ½ furlongs over Santa Anita’s hillside turf course. The Las Cienegas will be contested as the fourth race on a program of nine races that gets underway at 12:30 p.m.

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