Island Fashion began her 4-year-old season the same way she ended 2003.
The Petionville filly made it two Grade I victories in less than a month, following up her easy score in the La Brea Stakes on Dec. 27 with a hard-fought win over 16-1 shot Buffythecenterfold in the $250,000 Santa Monica Handicap on Sunday.
Owned and bred by Jeff Nielsen's Everest Stable and trained by Marcelo Polanco, Island Fashion, the 3-2 second choice in the field of six, won by three-quarters of a length under jockey Kent Desormeaux in 1:21.37 for the seven furlongs.
The fifth win in 11 races for the gray was more evidence that she could have been among the three finalists for the Eclipse award, to be announced tonight in Florida, as the top 3-year-old filly of last year. She and her two Grade I wins of 2003 were left out while Elloluv, who had one Grade I victory and was trounced by Island Fashion in the La Brea, was a finalist.
"This proves it was a slap in the face she isn't a finalist," said the Chilean-born Polanco. "She's something else. Mr. Nielsen wanted to prove that she is what we think she is. That's why we scratched from the other race [El Encino Stakes on Jan. 18] because we wouldn't have proved anything running in a Grade II against 4-year-olds. You see what you have when you run against the best fillies in the country in a Grade I."
Sightseek, the 6-5 favorite, finished fourth, leaving her winless in five races at Santa Anita and completing a lost weekend in Southern California for jockey Jerry Bailey. The country's perennial leading rider didn't win with any of 11 of his mounts -- six of which were favorites.
"She just didn't get into the race like she usually does," Bailey said. "Usually, when I give the nod she'll put me in behind the speed and finish them off."
Steward Pete Pedersen said Sunday afternoon that he and fellow Santa Anita stewards Ingrid Fermin and Tom Ward still have not heard from jockey Patrick Valenzuela. The rider, who hasn't ridden since Jan. 19, was suspended indefinitely on Friday for failing to appear for a drug test.
Request For Parole, the 3-1 second choice, made it three wins in four starts on the Gulfstream Park turf course when he won the $100,000 Mac Diarmida Handicap on Sunday.
Jose Santos rode the 5-year-old Judge T C horse for owners Jeri and Sam Knighton and trainer Stan Hough and completed the 1 3/8 miles on turf in 2:12.58, beating 7-1 shot Slew Valley by 1 1/2 lengths.
Lotta Kim, the 2-1 second choice, won the $100,000 Tiffany Lass over a sloppy surface at the Fair Grounds.
Ridden by Robby Albarado for owner Dolphus Morrison and trainer Hal Wiggins, the 3-year-old Roar filly beat Josie G. by three-quarters of a length in 1:38.88 for the mile.