ARCADIA, Calif. (Jan. 21, 2011) – Reba Is Tops, a 7-year-old stakes caliber mare who was running for a $62,500 claiming tag, emerged victorious when bet down to 3-5 favoritism Friday in Santa Anita’s $59,800 optional claiming feature for fillies and mares at 6 ½ furlongs on turf.

But it wasn’t quite that easy for the hard-hitting Washington-bred who was coming off a solid third in the Grade III Monrovia Stakes just three weeks before.

After drawing off to over a one-length lead on pacesetter Linda Lou in midstretch, Reba Is Tops stubbornly withstood a late resurge by the comebacker to win by a nose.

As it turned out, the odds-on favorite benefitted significantly from a ground-saving, courageous ride by Joe Talamo, who found room to rally along the rail as the field of seven crossed the dirt track entering the stretch of Santa Anita’s downhill turf course.

Linda Lou, a 6-year-old mare who hadn’t raced since October of 2009, finished 1 ¼ lengths ahead of Bella Roja. The final time was 1:13.06.

Reba Is Tops paid $3.20, $2.40 and $2.10. Linda Lou, ridden by Joel Rosario, paid $5.20 and $3.20. Bella Roja, with Patrick Valenzuela aboard, paid $3 to show.

There were no claims placed on the winner, who had been taken for $16,000 early in her career. Mart Glatt trains Reba Is Tops for the partnership of Kenny Marshall, Gordy Jarnig and Eric Schweiger.

Her career earnings reached $408,629 with the winning purse of $35,400 while her record became 13-6-4 in 28 starts. On grass, Reba Is Tops has posted a 6-4-1 record in 15 races, but this was her first win in six tries over Santa Anita’s unique hillside layout.

Smiling Tiger, one of the nation’s elite sprinters, is the even-money favorite among seven entrants in Saturday’s Grade II, $150,000 Palos Verdes Stakes at six furlongs. The 59th running of the Palos Verdes heads a nine-race program with first post at 12:30 p.m.