Fault's California debut is Buena Vista triumph

ARCADIA, Calif. -- Fault, the 4-year-old filly who raced throughout the Midwest and East Coast last year, left Phil D'Amato impressed with her morning exercise shortly after she joined his stable earlier this year.

The preliminary indications were encouraging, especially since D'Amato had watched Fault's troubled fourth-place finish in the Pago Hop Stakes at Fair Grounds on Dec. 30. He described Fault's performance as "the worst trip I've seen in a long time."

Fault had her California debut and first start for D'Amato on Saturday at Santa Anita. The filly had a fine trip, rallying on the rail to win the Grade 2 Buena Vista Stakes, a one-mile turf race for fillies and mares.

"She had bad luck at Fair Grounds," D'Amato said. "From the first time I breezed her I've been looking forward to running her in this category. She definitely fits."

Fault ($26.20) was timed in 1:33.49. She was the first stakes win at Santa Anita for jockey Geovanni Franco, who has cracked the top 10 in the jockey's standings in his first full year of riding in California.

Fault was sixth in the first half of the $201,380 Buena Vista, racing about 7 1/2 lengths behind pacesetter Juno, who set early fractions of 23.01 seconds for the opening quarter-mile and 45.75 for a half-mile. Franco guided Fault to an inside trip in the final quarter-mile.

Fault was fourth with a furlong remaining and gave Franco confidence with the way she was traveling in the last half of the race.

"She fits here," he said. "She felt good. I knew that she could do it."

The Buena Vista was Franco's biggest win since Inside Straight won the Grade 2 Oaklawn Handicap at Oaklawn Park last April.

Fault finished a length in front of 12-1 Thundering Sky, who finished a head in front of 55-1 Juno. Sassy Little Lita was fourth, followed by Madam Dancealot, Insta Erma, Madame Stripes, Sweet Charity, and Pricedtoperfection.

Madam Dancealot, second in the Grade 1 American Oaks here in December, was the 2-1 favorite.

Fault, by Blame, races for Agave Racing Stable and Little Red Feather Racing. Previously trained by Michelle Lovell, Fault has won 4 of 14 starts and earned $318,795.

D'Amato said Fault will be considered for the Grade 2 Santa Ana Stakes, a $200,000 race for fillies and mares at 1 1/8 miles on turf on March 18.