ARCADIA, Calif. (March 4, 2011) – Sugarinthemorning, a filly so well-regarded that she was bet down to odds of 5-1 in just her second start, the Grade I Del Mar Debutante last summer, returned from a freshening on Friday to win her first venture over turf in Santa Anita’s $68,288 optional claiming feature for 3-year-old fillies at 6 ½ furlongs.

The California-bred daughter of Candy Ride, a red-hot stallion who is also the sire of Saturday’s Santa Anita Handicap favorite Twirling Candy, rallied from just off the pace with Patrick Valenzuela aboard to defeat fast-closing British import So Belle by one-half length in 1:13.42.

The victory over Santa Anita’s downhill turf course was Sugarinthemorning’s first start since a fourth-place finish as the 13-10 favorite in an optional claimer at Hollywood Park on Dec. 9.

“We had high hopes for her from the beginning,” said her trainer, Hall of Famer Ron McAnally. “She lost a little weight and was getting a little nervous, so we decided to give her some time off. It seems to have worked.”

After breaking her maiden by 2 ½ lengths in her debut at Del Mar last Aug. 14, Sugarinthemorning was entered in the Grade I Debutante. After pressing the early pace, she dropped back to sixth behind Tell a Kelly in a field of 10.

She promptly rebounded for an easy win in an allowance event during Oak Tree’s meet at Hollywood Park before faltering in the Moccasin Stakes and in the optional claimer.

“I really think she’ll like it,” McAnally had said in anticipation of moving the bay filly to a grass surface for Friday’s comeback race.

So Belle, trainer Ben Cecil’s British-bred newcomer with Rafael Bejarano in the saddle, made a race of it despite being troubled when between horses while crossing over the main track portion of Santa Anita’s unique downhill grass layout. She finished one length ahead of third-place Teroda, ridden by Garrett Gomez, in the field of eight.

The second choice at odds of 3-1, Sugarinthemorning paid $8.20, $4 and $3. So Belle returned $5.20 and $3.40. The show price on Teroda was $3.

Sugarinthemorning’s third victory in six starts was worth $43,680 to Stephen B. Weissman, who bred the filly, and his ownership partner Samantha G. Clement. The winner’s career earnings rose to $103,044.

Santa Anita will have an early first post of 12 noon on Saturday when presenting the 74th running of the Grade I, $750,000 Santa Anita Handicap, presented by San Manuel Indian Bingo and Casino. Twirling Candy is the 4-5 morning line choice in a field of 11. The 11-race card includes two other Grade I competitions: the Frank E. Kilroe Mile and the Santa Anita Oaks.