ARCADIA, Calif. (March 17, 2018)–A multiple graded stakes winner on turf, she was unproven on dirt–until that is, the Phil D’Amato-trained Fault day-lighted her competition in winning Saturday’s Grade I, $400,000 Santa Margarita Stakes by some 6 ½ lengths.  Ridden by Geovanni Franco, Fault got a mile and one eighth in 1:50.58.

Parked on the far outside in a field of 10 older fillies and mare, Fault was taken in-hand out of the gate but was forced seven wide into the Club House turn.  As the field sorted itself out, she found a good position, just two off the rail in the run down the backside while in seventh position.  Set down heading to the five sixteenths pole, Fault was three-wide turning for home and easily blew by pacesetter Mended with a furlong to run.

“Geovanni rode a great race,” said D’Amato, who, in her first start with him, sent the 4-year-old daughter of Blame out to victory in the Grade II Buena Vista Stakes at a flat mile on turf Feb. 17.  “He got her in a good position on the backside and got her in the clear at the three eighths pole, turned her loose, and I kind of thought right then, this filly can run on the dirt for sure.  And, she just didn’t stop.”

In what turned out to be the first-ever Grade I win for both horse and rider, Fault, who was claimed for $50,000 10 starts back on May 3, 2017 at Churchill Downs, picked up her third graded stakes win and improved her overall mark to 15-5-3-2.

Off as the second choice at 7-2, she paid $9.00, $5.60 and $3.40.

Owned by Agave Racing Stable and Little Red Feather Racing, Fault picked up $240,000 for the win, increasing her earnings to $558,795.

“A lot of jockeys dream to win a Grade I, this means a lot,” said Franco, who currently ranks seventh in the jockey standings with 24 wins.  “We know we have a nice filly and I was just hoping she would run good on the dirt…Coming into the far turn, I had a lot of filly and when I asked her to run, I didn’t want to get her stopped.  A lot of jockeys dream about coming to Santa Anita and winning races and we are doing it.  It’s a great feeling.”

Ridden by Ricardo Gonzalez, Golden Gate Fields-based Mended kept to her task and finished second by 2 ¼ lengths over favored Mopotism.  Off at 7-1, Mended paid $7.80 and $3.60.

“She’s got a lot of heart, she tries so hard,” said Gonzalez.  “They pushed her early, but she ran hard the whole way.  I’m really proud of the way she ran.”

The 8-5 favorite with Mario Gutierrez, Mopotism was third best on the day, finishing a nose in front of German-bred La Force while paying $2.40 to show.

Fractions on the race were 22.92, 46.79, 1:11.11 and 1:37.45.

First post time for a nine-race card on Sunday is at 11:30 a.m.