ARCADIA, Calif. (March 25, 2011) – Odds-on favorite Lady Sweetness, whose career start had been delayed by weight problems, labored to a half-length victory over fast-closing Hopeful Union Friday in Santa Anita’s $57,200 Half Moon Bay Purse, a first condition allowance/optional claimer for older fillies and mares at seven furlongs.

Under a vigorous ride by Martin Garcia, the daughter of Candy Ride gained her second straight win in her third career start while running the distance in 1:23.17 over a “sloppy” main track.

Hopeful Union, ridden by Alonso Quinonez, rallied determinedly for the place, one-half length ahead of 3-1 second-choice Dani Reese, with Corey Nakatani aboard, in the field of eight.

Trained by Mike Mitchell, whose wife, Denise, co-owns the chestnut filly with Sagely Stable, Lady Sweetness did not begin her career until January of this year after having turned 4-years-old. “She was big as a house when I first got her,” explained Mitchell. “She looked like a Clydesdale, she was so fat.

“It took forever to get all that weight off, she was so big and heavy,” he added. “You can’t push ’em, or you’re going to break something.”

After losing by a neck in her debut, Lady Sweetness returned to overwhelm a maiden field by 5 ¾ lengths on Feb. 25 while bet down to even money.

In Friday’s feature, she tracked early pace-setter Royal Tiger, took the lead in upper stretch and was all out to resist the bid from last by Hopeful Union. “I don’t think she would have labored as much on a fast track,” said Mitchell.

Lady Sweetness paid $3.60, $2.80 and $2.20 after the winning purse of $33,600 increased her career earnings to $76,800. Hopeful Union returned $5.20 and $3.20. The show price on Dani Reese was $2.60.

Mitchell wasn’t sure what might be next for Lady Sweetness. “We might try the grass with her,” he said, “and we can either go into an allowance race or look at a stakes somewhere.”

Soul Candy is the 2-1 morning line favorite among six marathoners set to contest Saturday’s 55th running of the Grade III, $100,000 Tokyo City Cup at 1 ½ miles over Santa Anita’s main track. The Tokyo City Cup goes as the seventh event on a nine-race program with first post at 12:30 p.m.