Super Diamond has won six of his last eight starts and has only four other horses to beat in today's San Pasqual Handicap at Santa Anita, but he needs to overcome a season-long hex if he's going to win.
Favorites in stakes races have been losing at an astonishing rate. When Mausie beat Clabber Girl, the 8-5 choice Saturday in the $113,300 Santa Maria Handicap, it was the 17th time in 19 stakes that the favorite had stumbled.
Swishing her tail furiously all the way through the stretch, Mausie won the 1 1/16-mile race by five lengths before a crowd of 39,700, with Clabber Girl, after a wide trip, running fifth in the field of seven fillies and mares.
Miss Alto, an upset winner in the San Gorgonio Handicap Jan. 18, finished second, three-quarters of a length ahead of Novel Sprite.
The only favorites to win at the meeting have been Very Subtle in the La Brea Stakes and Winning Colors in the La Centinela. Very Subtle was heavily favored in a subsequent start, in the El Encino last week, only to be beaten by By Land by Sea.
By Land by Sea and Mausie are both trained by Gary Jones, who added blinkers for his El Encino winner and took them off Mausie on Saturday.
"Mausie has been pulling herself up when she was running on the grass, so we decided to take the blinkers off," Jones said. "Blinkers on, blinkers off, you have to stay a half-week ahead of these son of a guns."
Mausie, a 6-year-old Argentine-bred who started racing in California last October, helped Gary Stevens register his second five-win day of the season.
Stevens has three wins and one second in five tries with Mausie. The only other jockey to ride her has been Pat Valenzuela, who rode three winners Saturday. Stevens, the leading rider at the meet with 38 wins in 28 days, and Valenzuela would have swept the card except that Corey Black rode Sadie B. Fast, at 29-1, to a come-from-behind win over the 1-2 favorite, Jeanne Jones, in the sixth race.
Second in an allowance race only eight days ago, Mausie took the lead after a half-mile and was never challenged. She doesn't like to be hit by the whip, and there was no cause for Stevens to even think about using it.
Timed in 1:43 3/5, Mausie was the fifth betting choice and paid $12, $5.80 and $4.80. The other payoffs were $5.80 and $3.80 for Miss Alto and $6.60 on Novel Sprite.
Laffit Pincay, back in the saddle for the first time since he hurt his back on Dec. 27, rode Clabber Girl, who has never won a stake but had earnings of almost $600,000, mainly because of a second-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Distaff last November.
Clabber Girl had 5 wins and 10 seconds in 27 races before Saturday, a fact that didn't escape Jones.
"That's one of the reasons I brought my mare back so soon," Jones said. "Clabber Girl has had a tendency to get beat. And . . . my horse was only carrying 114 pounds."
Clabber Girl was the high weight with 120.
Pincay figured that he had no choice but to keep Clabber Girl on the outside. "This filly has a mind of her own," he said. "At the three-eighths pole I thought I had a good chance, but she got tired and stopped."
It was Clabber Girl's first start since an allowance win at Hollywood Park six weeks ago.
Mausie was bought in a three-horse package last year by her owners, William de Burgh and Michael Lima.
"Her sire (Mariache) was a sprinter," de Burgh said. "So we would have been happy just if she had been able to run a mile."
Mausie had also won her only previous start on dirt in America--a 6 1/2-furlong victory at Santa Anita last October.
As Jones watched Saturday's rerun on a television under the stands, he smiled at the action caused by Mausie's tail.
"The more she swishes, the faster she runs," Jones said.
Horse Racing Notes
Gary Stevens won Saturday's first race, as a replacement for Manuel Ortiz Jr., then he won the third, fourth and fifth before taking the eighth with Mausie. Stevens' bid for six wins ended when Lord Spruce, also trained by Gary Jones, finished fifth in the ninth race. . . . In a vote of jockeys around the country, Don Brumfield has won the George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award, which will be presented to the 49-year-old rider at Santa Anita on Feb. 20. . . . Ifrad and Bill Shoemaker, surviving a foul claim, teamed to win the $100,000 Turf Paradise Handicap by a head over Forkintheroad. . . . At Golden Gate Fields, two Santa Anita-based horses, Tomorrow's Child and Little Bar Fly, finished in a dead heat for win in the $50,000 Vallejo Stakes. . . . Masterful Advocate, scheduled to run next Sunday in the $500,000 Charles H. Strub at Santa Anita, worked between races Saturday and was timed in 1:49 4/5 for 1 1/8 miles. . . . Bold Second, injured just before he was to run in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile in November, has been retired and will stand at stud in Argentina. . . . Please Remit, winner of the Los Feliz Stakes, will run next in the San Rafael on Feb. 27, which is also likely to draw Tejano, who finished second to Forty Niner in the Eclipse Awards voting for 2-year-old colt. . . . Forty Niner's debut as a 3-year-old will be Wednesday in the Hutcheson at Gulfstream. . . . Charlie Whittingham saddled two sons of Cougar II--All Cat and Proud Cat--who won races Saturday.