IOTAPA IMPRESSIVE GATE TO WIRE WINNER OF GRADE II SANTA MARIA STAKES, TALAMO CONTROLS PACE AND WINS BY 1 ¾ LENGTHS

ARCADIA, Calif. (Feb. 15, 2014)—With Joe Talamo at the controls, the John Sadler-trained Iotapa broke from the rail and took charge into the Club House turn, controlling the pace throughout to win Saturday’s Grade II, $200,000 Santa Maria Stakes by 1 ¾ lengths, getting 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.30.

Claimed out of a debut maiden $50,000 claiming win on June 21, 2012, the 4-year-old Kentucky-bred filly by Afleet Alex came off a close second going seven furlongs in the Grade II Santa Monica Stakes Jan. 25 and notched her fourth win from eight starts.

“We were going pretty slow and that was kind of our plan, to take her to the lead,” said Talamo. “She was just pricking her ears back and forth. She showed a lot of class today, I was so fortunate to get back on her…She’s never been worse than third and she’s run some great races.”

The second choice at 2-1 in a field of six, Iotapa paid $6.40, $3.60 and $2.80.

Owned by Kosta Hronis of Hronis Racing, LLC, Iotapa picked up $120,000 for the win, increasing her earnings to $363,490. Second to multiple Eclipse Champion Beholder in the Grade I Santa Anita Oaks last April, Iotapa collected her second stakes win in the Santa Maria.

“When she drew the rail, I didn’t want to waste the post,” said Sadler in explaining the front-running strategy. “I thought she’d be first or second, but I left it up to Joe…Hopefully, she’ll go in the Santa Margarita (Grade I, 1 1/8 miles, on March 15).”

The third choice at 5-2, Let Faith Arise, who came off a sharp second in the Grade II La Canada Stakes Jan. 19, settled into third position midway down the backside and was three deep turning for home under Corey Nakatani.

“We had a perfect trip,” said Nakatani. “There was more pace on paper than what developed in the race. I could see that the winner got an easy lead, but I said, ‘Don’t move too soon, ’cause you won’t finish like you need to.’ The way it turned out, my filly relaxed well and she finished well. This was only her second time around two turns, so it was a great effort.”

Trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, Let Faith Arise paid $3.60 and $2.60.

A Grade III stakes winner two starts back at Belmont Park, the John Shirreffs-trained Stanwyk came off a close second in the 1 1/16 miles Paseana Stakes Jan. 12 and rallied from last to finish third, 1 ¾ lengths behind Let Faith Arise. Ridden by Alex Solis, Stanwyk was off at 5-1 and paid $3.20 to show.

Stanwyk finished a half length in front of longshot Yahilwa, who sat a close second with Tyler Baze past the quarter pole and tired late. It was another 2 ¼ lengths back to the actual 2-1 favorite Ondine, who stalked the pace but didn’t fire through the lane under Mike Smith.

Fractions on the race were 23.28, 47.75, 1:11.64 and 1:35.88.

Racing will resume at Santa Anita on Sunday, with first post time at 12:30 p.m. Admission gates will open at 10:30 a.m. The Grade II, seven furlong San Vicente Stakes, and important prep to the $1 million Santa Anita Derby, will serve as the afternoon’s feature.