WIN-MINDED WELKEN SCORES FOR SIXTH TIME IN LAST EIGHT RACES

ARCADIA, Calif. (April 15, 2010) – Welken, who doesn’t seem to know how to run a bad race, was triumphant for the sixth time in her last eight starts Thursday when scoring a one-length victory over pace-setter Zilla in Santa Anita’s $52,800 allowance feature for fillies and mares at 1 1/8 miles on turf.

With Mike Smith in the saddle, the 6-year-old mare gradually closed from fifth in the field of seven to overtake Zilla at the sixteenth pole and win going away in 1:46.72. Prytania closed from last to finish third, a length behind the runner-up.

“For this mare to get a mile-and-an-eighth, she needs to be covered up, European-style,” noted Hall of Fame jockey Smith. “This was a great level for her today. And right now if she gets the right pace to sit in behind, she’s got a helluva turn of foot.”

The win was Welken’s third in four starts since trainer Mike Mitchell claimed her for $40,000 for owner Nick Alexander on Dec. 31. She missed by a half length when second in her other start for Mitchell.

But consistency always has been the hallmark of the chestnut daughter of Sky Classic. She has been in-the-money in 23 of her 27 lifetime starts while winning 10 and running second nine times. On turf, Welken always fires. Her accounting is 7-6-1 in 14 grass starts.

Probably the most unusual thing about her effort on Thursday was that she wasn’t even favored. She closed at odds of 17-10. Gripsholm Castle, bet down to 8-5 favoritism just before post, wound up last without mounting a threat.

Welken paid $5.40, $3.40 and $2.60. Zilla, ridden by Joel Rosario, paid $7.80 and $5.40. The show price on Prytania, with Rafael Bejarano aboard, was $7.

The winning purse of $31,200 elevated the career earnings of Welken to $277,073.

Santa Anita continues its popular “Free Fridays” attraction on the final Friday of the meet when patrons enjoy free General Admission as well as free box seats on a first come, first served basis. Hot dogs, sodas, beer, popcorn and coffee are priced at $1 each.

The eight-race program features the 30th running of the $55,000 Santa Lucia Handicap for fillies and mares at 1 1/8 miles with Dance to My Tune, second to the great Zenyatta in the Grade I Santa Margarita Handicap on March 13, expected to be the favorite. First post is at 1 p.m. The meet concludes on Sunday with the 71st running of the Grade II, $150,000 San Juan Capistrano Handicap at 1 ¾ miles on turf.

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