Thursday, January 23, 2014



ARCADIA, Calif. (Jan. 22, 2014)—California-bred Teddy’s Promise, a seven-time stakes winner owned by her breeders, Ted and Judy Nichols, seeks millionaire status in Saturday’s Grade II, $200,000 Santa Monica Stakes at seven furlongs, her final career start before a planned mating to top Kentucky-based stallion Smart Strike this spring. A winner of last year’s Santa Monica, “Teddy” heads a field of seven older fillies and mares competing in the prestigious sprint that will be run for the 57th time.

A winner of the Grade I La Brea Stakes on Dec. 31, 2011, Teddy’s Promise comes off a dominant 1 ¼ length win in six furlong Playa Del Rey Stakes on Dec. 15, which followed a disappointing run in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint Nov. 2.

A 6-year-old mare by Salt Lake, Teddy’s Promise made her first eight starts for David Hofmans, and has been expertly managed by trainer Ron Ellis over the past 2 ½ years.

Both Ellis and regular rider Victor Espinoza have consistently acknowledged that Teddy’s Promise prefers to run outside of horses, which could present a challenge on Saturday, as she’s drawn in post position two. If her Playa Del Rey performance is any indication, she would appear to be more than equal to the challenge in what will be her 29th career start.

A May foal, Teddy’s Promise enters the Santa Monica with $882,397 in earnings from an overall record of 28-11-4-2.

An upset winner of the Grade I, seven furlong La Brea on Dec. 26, the Peter Miller-trained Heir Kitty is in search of her third consecutive win. A 4-year-old Florida-bred filly by Wildcat Heir, Heir Kitty has never been better and she’ll again be ridden by Gary Stevens.

Owned by David Bernsen and Paul Makin, Heir Kitty has four wins, three seconds and a third from 14 starts, with earnings of $370,272.

Miller will also be represented by longshot Lexington Pearl, a 5-year-old mare who has been based in South Florida. She’ll be making her first Southern California start in the Santa Monica. Well traveled, Lexington Pearl will be making her 28th career start Saturday and she is in search of her first-ever U.S. stakes victory. With an overall mark of 27-9-3-5, she’s owned by Miller Racing, LLC.

Leading rider Rafael Bejarano will ride come backing Iotapa, who drew the rail and has not run since finishing third in the Grade II one mile turf San Clemente Handicap on July 21 for trainer John Sadler.

A winner of the seven furlong Railbird Stakes on May 19, it’s worth noting the 4-year-old Afleet Alex filly ran a big second to eventual multiple Eclipse Champion Beholder in the Grade I, 1 1/16 miles Santa Anita Oaks on April 6 of last year. Prior to that, she took a first condition allowance on Feb. 15—her first start in nearly eight months, which followed a first-out maiden $50,000 winner on June 21, 2012—indicating she’s more than capable of running well fresh.

Owned by Hronis Racing, LLC, Iotapa has three wins, two seconds and a third from just six starts. She has earnings of $203,490.

A winner of three out of her last four starts, the Jerry Hollendorfer-trained Scherzinger exits a rapid come-from-behind second-condition allowance score on Jan. 2, covering six furlongs in 1:08.60, winning by a half length while earning a 96 Beyer Speed figure.

Owned by Mark DeDominico, LLC and Hollendorfer, she’s drawn well in post six with regular rider Mike Smith and should be running late. A 4-year-old Kentucky-bred filly by Tiz Wonderful, Scherzinger has three wins, a second and a third from six starts.

Second to Scherzinger Jan. 2, the speedy Socialbug will try to avenge that defeat, when she was pegged as the even money favorite. Lightly raced, the Bob Baffert trainee was well beaten after showing brief speed by Teddy’s Promise in the 6 ½ furlong LA Woman Stakes two starts back, Oct. 5.

A winner of her first two starts, both at six furlongs, this past summer at Del Mar, Socialbug seeks her third win in career start number five on Saturday. She’s owned by Mike G. Rutherford.

Spendthrift Farms’ homebred Winding Way, who attended the pace and finished sixth, beaten four lengths in the Grade II, 6 ½ furlong turf Monrovia Stakes Jan. 5, will try natural dirt for only the second time in what will be career start number 12.

Drawn outside, Winding Way, trained by Carla Gaines, gets the services of Tyler Baze and will likely be sent to the front in the Santa Monica.

The complete field for the Santa Monica, to be run as the fourth race on a 10-race card, with jockeys and weights in post position order: Iotapa, Rafael Bejarano, 118; Teddy’s Promise, Victor Espinoza, 118; Lexington Pearl, Joe Talamo, 118; Heir Kitty, Gary Stevens, 123; Socialbug, Martin Garcia, 118; Scherzinger, Mike Smith, 118, and Winding Way, Tyler Baze, 118.

Saturday is Sunshine Millions California Cup Day at Santa Anita. Special early first post time is 12 noon, with admission gates opening at 10 a.m.

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