Finest City wins Grade 2 Santa Monica Stakes at Santa Anita

ARCADIA, Calif. (AP) Finest City won the $200,000 Santa Monica Stakes for older fillies and mares by 3 } lengths Saturday at Santa Anita to go with an Eclipse Award as the nation's top female sprinter.

Ridden by Hall of Famer Mike Smith, Finest City ran seven furlongs in 1:21.49 on a track listed as wet-fast and paid $2.80, $2.10 and $2.10. The 5-year-old mare had been idle since winning the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint here on Nov. 5.

Finest City won the Eclipse at the annual ceremony in Hallandale Beach, Florida, where veteran trainer Eric Kruljac was on hand to accept the trophy for his son, 28-year-old trainer Ian Kruljac.

Fantastic Style returned $2.80 and $2.40, while Sheer Pleasure was another neck back in third and paid $3.40 to show.

Smith hustled Finest City out of her post position along the rail.

''She's never had this kind of dirt in her face and I certainly didn't want her to get any,'' he said. ''My only concern with being away as long as she has is that we'd probably have to use her from the rail, but I saw she's been working really well. I knew she's handled the grass and she's got a real athletic way of going, so I thought she could probably handle this surface.''

The Grade 2 victory, worth $120,000, increased Finest City's career earnings to $1,045,594, with five wins in 15 starts.

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