Maria Jesse, a French 4-year-old filly making only her second start in the United States, rallied from the middle of the pack to win the $164,600 Santa Ana Handicap by two lengths at Santa Anita Saturday, giving trainer Julio Canani his second major victory in two weeks.
Canani won the $1-million Santa Anita Handicap on March 5 with Martial Law. The Clover Racing Stable, which owns Martial Law, had the chance to buy Maria Jesse in France last year, but rejected her because of an obscure pedigree.
Maria Jesse, ridden by Gary Stevens, earned $97,100 for her owner, television producer and writer David Milch. She ran 1 1/8 miles on the grass in 1:47 1/5 and paid $17.60 as the fourth betting choice of the crowd of 32,638.
In her first U.S. start, on Feb. 19, Maria Jesse won a mile grass race by a half-length even though she bled from the lungs. She ran Saturday after being treated with an anti-bleeder medication.
Fieldy, shipped to Santa Anita from Florida after winning two straight at Gulfstream Park, finished second by a neck over Claire Marine, who had a neck on No Review in fourth place. Delighter, who finished fifth, a nose behind No Review, was coupled with Claire Marine and was the 6-5 favorite in the eight-horse field.
Maria Jesse, a daughter of Stay for Lunch and Clear Off, ran at minor tracks in France, winning eight of 17 starts before Milch bought her.