COURSE SPECIALIST UNZIP ME RUNS AWAY WITH GR. III MONROVIA AS ODDS-ON CHOICE

ARCADIA, Calif. (Jan. 2, 2011) – California-bred Unzip Me, whose zip is maximized on grass, registered her fourth win in five starts over Santa Anita’s downhill turf course Sunday with a handy wire-to-wire triumph in the 44th running of the Grade III, $100,000 Monrovia Stakes for fillies and mares.

With Rafael Bejarano at the controls, the 7-10 favorite led from start to finish while running 6 ½ furlongs in 1:12.72. Unzip Me crossed the wire 1 ¼ lengths ahead of Broken Dreams, ridden by Garrett Gomez. Reba Is Tops, with Patrick Valenzuela aboard, wound up third, another half length back.

Evening Jewel, the 3-1 second choice who was a multiple graded stakes winner at longer distances last year, never threatened while returning from a two-month freshening. Ridden by Victor Espinoza, Evening Jewel ran fifth in a field reduced to six by the late scratches of Candace Gold and Gilded Gem.

“She’s a special horse,” trainer Marty Jones said of the winner, a 5-year-old homebred daughter of City Zip owned by Harris Farms and partners. Unzip Me gained her 10th win in 17 career starts and her eighth of 12 on turf. Strictly a sprinter, Unzip Me bagged the winner’s purse of $60,000 and increased her career earnings to $643,513. “She ended up having a great trip,” Jones said in the winner’s circle. “She got a nice, easy lead like she likes and did her thing. Once she gets out of there and gets going, she’s something special.”

Bejarano said his tactics became set in the post parade. “After I saw the other speed horse (Candace Gold) scratch,” he explained, “I decided to be on the lead. This is the first time she has run after the Breeders’ Cup (third in the Nov. 6 Turf Sprint at Churchill Downs), so I just tried to get her to relax and stay comfortable.

“When I saw everybody getting close to me, I was just waiting for the top of the stretch to close the door. As soon as I got to the dirt (crossing), I let her go. She kept running and finished strong.”

The mutuels across the board on Unzip Me were $3.40, $2.40 and $2.20. Broken Dreams, the 5-1 third choice, returned $4.20 and $3.20. Reba Is Tops paid $4.40 to show.

After dark days Monday through Wednesday, Santa Anita will resume racing on Thursday with an eight-race program and a first post of 1 p.m.

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