Afleet Alex's 4-year-old filly Iotapa controlled the pace all the way en route to her first graded stakes win in Saturday's $200,000 Santa Maria S. (G2) at Santa Anita Park.
Iotapa, who ran second in the $200,000 Santa Monica S. (G2) on Jan. 25, is Afleet Alex's leading earner this year. A leading fourth-crop sire of graded stakes winners, Afleet Alex stands this year at Gainesway for $12,500.
Iotapa shot right out of the gate to the lead under Joe Talamo. Yahilwa made a run at her down the backstretch after a half-mile in :47.75, but Iotapa opened up again on the final turn and with a powerful stretch run, came home a 1 3/4-length winner in 1:42.30 for the 1 1/16-miles.
Iotapa earned a career-best Beyer Speed Figure of 99 for Saturday's effort, the highest number posted this year by any distaffer at greater than a mile.
“She showed a lot of class today; I was so fortunate to get back on her,” said Talamo. “This was all class, she’s never been worse than third and she’s run some great races. Looking for a big year from her."
“When she drew the rail, I didn’t want to waste the post (on going to the lead),” added trainer John Sadler. “She’s never run a bad race. She’s got very good form; one-two every time. The one third, she didn’t really like the grass.
“Hopefully, she’ll go in the Santa Margarita (Grade One, 1 1/8 miles, $350,000, March 15). I don’t know the spacing on that but we’re looking to have her all year.”
Iotapa is now 4-3-1 in eight lifetime starts and has earned $363,490. The dark bay filly is owned by Peter and Kosta Hronis. She was bred in Kentucky by GEM Inc., Bajer and O'Hara.