Theatre Critic's strong finish enabled her to win Friday's $55,000 feature race at Santa Anita by a nose in a four-horse photo finish.
After allowing Super Native to set the pace for the first six furlongs, the nine-horse field was tightly bunched in the final turn. The race to the wire was a contest between Prudent Manner, River Traffic, Irish Empire and Theatre Critic, with the winner getting up in the final stride.
Jockey Eddie Delahoussaye allowed Theatre Critic to settle in behind the pack early, and swung him wide in the stretch after getting blocked in the turn. The final time for the 1 1/8 miles on the turf was 1:48 3/5.
River Traffic held for second, with Prudent Manner finishing third, another nose behind and a head in front of Irish Empire.
The victory, worth $30,250, was Theatre Critic's fourth in 14 starts for his owner, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum's Darley Stud Management. It was his first triumph for trainer Gary Jones since shipping in from France, where the 5-year-old son of Sadler's Wells was a winner of listed races.
Theatre Critic paid $14.60, $8.20 and $4.80. River Traffic paid $7.20 and $3.60, and Prudent Manner $3.40.
Exbourne, winner of last year's Hollywood Turf Handicap and Caesar's International, was scratched from his scheduled first start of 1992.