One start prior to the Kalookan Queen, “Teddy” ran eighth, beaten 15 ½ lengths when breaking from the rail in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint on Nov. 3.
“She’s come back and done well since the Breeders’ Cup,” said winning trainer Ron Ellis after the Kalookan Queen win. “I felt pretty good about her today…It was very encouraging.”
Owned and bred by Ted and Judy Nichols, Teddy’s Promise drew post four in a nine-horse field for Saturday’s Santa Monica. Given the fact she has an aversion to running inside of other horses, it may be incumbent upon jockey Victor Espinoza to use her from the gate in order to secure an outside position to the far turn.
“When she’s inside, she doesn’t always like it,” said Espinoza following the Kalookan Queen, a race in which she drew post five in a six-horse field.
Teddy’s Promise has an impressive resume, as her overall record is 20-7-2-1, with earnings of $484,981. She is 6-2-0-0 at seven furlongs.
Without question, the speed of the Santa Monica field is the up and coming Kindle, who is drawn in post position eight. Trained by Gary Mandella, she comes off a huge second coming down the hillside turf course in the Grade II Monrovia Stakes going 6 ½ furlongs on Jan. 6.
A 5-year-old mare by Indian Charlie, Kindle rocketed from the gate and led until the shadow of the wire, losing to Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint winner Mizdirection by what many thought was a neck, but was called a half-length.
Untried at seven furlongs, Kindle should pose an elusive target on the lead with Edwin Maldonado. Owned by HnR Nothhaft Horse Racing, LLC, she has a mark of 9-4-3-0 and earnings of $173,370. She has one win from four tries on natural dirt.
Favored in her last three starts, the Bob Baffert-trained Distracting ran second at 8-5 in the 1 1/16 miles Paseana Handicap on Jan. 13. Although she cuts back in distance, the lightly raced 4-year-old filly by Distorted Humor figures to be close to the Santa Monica pace under regular pilot Rafael Bejarano.
Owned by her breeders, Hill “n” Dale Equine Holdings, Inc. & McGhee, is 4-2-2-0, with $86,300 in earnings.
Like Kindle, Byrama exits three consecutive turf sprints, with her most recent a fourth-place run in the Monrovia Stakes. With Bejarano aboard Distracting, Byrama will be ridden for the first time by comebacking Hall of Famer Gary Stevens.
Well thought of throughout her career, it is expected that Byrama will fall far off the early Santa Monica pace and come with a big run under Stevens. Owned by Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, Byrama will be making her first start on natural dirt Saturday. She has earnings of $243,634 from an overall mark of 14-4-3-4. A 4-year-old English-bred filly, she is conditioned by Simon Callaghan.
Like Teddy’s Promise, the Steve Asmussen-trained Belle of the Hall was well beaten in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint, but she has solid graded stakes-placed credentials to her credit. With a record of 9-2-1-2 at seven furlongs, she is no stranger to the distance or the main track.
With a fast early pace likely, Belle of the Hall should be well of the pace in the Santa Monica. Owned by Dixiana Farms, LLC, she has an overall mark of 23-6-2-2 and earnings of $493,170.
The complete field for the Santa Monica, which will be run as the eighth race, with jockey and weights in post position order: Journaliste, Garrett Gomez, 118; Distracting, Rafael Bejarano, 118; Sugarinthemorning, Martin Garcia, 118; Teddy’s Promise, Victor Espinoza, 118; Belle of the Hall, Corey Nakatani, 118; Byrama, Gary Stevens, 118; Rumor, Mike Smith, 118; Kindle, Edwin Maldonado, 118, and Pink Lollipops, Joe Talamo, 118.
SCARLET STRIKE & TALAMO HEAD WIDE OPEN GRADE III SANTA YSABEL AT 1 1/16 MILES, HOLLENDORFER TRAINEE FACES FIVE RIVALS
No worse than third in seven career starts, Scarlet Strike comes off a nose defeat in the one mile turf Blue Norther Stakes on Jan. 1 and rates top billing in Saturday’s Grade III, $100,000 Santa Ysabel for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/16 miles.
A Kentucky-bred filly by Smart Strike, she was second in the Grade I Chandelier Stakes from off the pace at 1 1/16 miles on Sept. 29, and she was third in similar fashion in the Grade I Hollywood Starlet at the same distance on Dec. 8. With a record of 7-1-3-3 and earnings of $200,340, she’ll again be handled by Joe Talamo who has been aboard in her last four starts. Trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, she is owned by Hollendorfer, Carver or Smith.
The Peter Miller-trained Heir Kitty came flying to run a troubled fifth, beaten one length, in the Blue Norther under Garrett Gomez. Second in the Grade II Best Pal at 6 ½ furlongs on Aug. 5, the Florida-bred filly by Wildcat Heir has ample speed if Gomez opts to call upon it. With an apparent lack of pace in the Santa Ysabel, Heir Kitty could be on or close to the early lead Saturday.
Owned by Bernsen or Makin, she has a record of 6-2-1-0 and earnings of $98,410.
Switch to the Lead, whose best race to date was a third-place finish in the Grade III Sorrento Stakes at Del Mar on Aug. 8, comes back on five days notice after running an even fourth in the Grade II Santa Ynez at 6 ½ furlongs on Monday.
Trained by Patrick Biancone, the Kentucky-bred filly by Songandaprayer is owned by her breeder, Kona Stable, LLC.
Escape Act, who broke her maiden going six furlongs on turf on Dec. 15, settled off the pace and came running to finish fourth, beaten a neck, in the Blue Norther, her first try at two turns.
Trained by Gary Stute, Escape Act is Medaglia d’Oro and was bred in Kentucky by her owner, Bo Hirsch. Handled by three different jockeys in four starts, she’ll be ridden back by Martin Garcia. With a record of 4-1-0-1, she has earnings of $40,290.
Fiftyshadesofhay, who was eighth, beaten only 2 ¾ lengths, rates an upset chance for Bob Baffert. A maiden special weight winner at 1 1/16 miles on Nov. 22, she’ll be handled by regular rider Rafael Bejarano. Owned by Pegram, Watson or Weitman, she has $46,490 in earnings from a 5-1-1-1 mark.
Gary Stevens, who won his first race in seven years aboard Glen Hill Farm’s Branding on Jan. 12, will ride the Kentucky-bred daughter of Street Sense back in the Santa Ysabel for trainer Tom Proctor. A handy 2 ½-length maiden winner at seven furlongs, she’ll try two turns for the first time in her third career start.
The Santa Ysabel, which will be carded as Saturday’s fourth race, with jockeys and weights in post position order: Escape Act, Martin Garcia, 119; Fiftyshadesofhay, Rafael Bejarano, 118; Scarlet Strike, Joe Talamo, 119; Switch to the Lead, Julien Leparoux, 119; Branding, Gary Stevens, 119, and Heir Kitty, Garrett Gomez, 119.
TIZ FLIRTATIOUS LOOMS HEAVY FAVORITE IN $100,000 VALENTINE DANCER, CAL-BRED MARE BY TIZ BUD EXITS GRADE III FRANKEL
Regarded by many as California’s top current state-bred mare at middle distances, Tiz Flirtatious takes a steep drop in class and looms a standout in Saturday’s $100,000 Valentine Dancer Stakes for California-bred fillies and mares at one mile on turf.
A solid second as the 7-5 favorite in the Grade III Robert J. Frankel Stakes going 1 1/8 miles on soft turf Dec. 30, the 5-year-old mare by Tizbud ran a huge second, beaten a length, in the Grade I Matriarch at one mile on Nov. 25.
Trained by Marty Jones and owned by her breeders, Pamela Ziebarth, has an enviable record of 7-4-2-1, with earnings of $274,800. She’ll be ridden back by Rafael Bejarano, who should be able to adapt to any pace scenario.
Consistent Halo Dolly, who loomed a winner and finished fourth, beaten three lengths in the Frankel, has an impressive 6-5-0-0 record at one mile on turf and had an incredible 2012, going 12-7-0-1 and amassing $675,896 in earnings.
A 5-year-old mare by Popular, Halo Dolly has run well from off the pace and on the lead. Owned by Hoefflin or O’Farrell, Schneider and partners, she has an overall mark of 25-14-3-2. She is trained by Jerry Hollendorfer.
Idle since weakening to an eighth-place finish in the Grade III Autumn Miss Stakes at one mile on turf on Oct. 27, Best Present Ever could prove dangerous for trainer Eric Kruljac. Third in the Grade I American Oaks at Betfair Hollywood Park on July 14, she is a stakes winner at a mile on turf and should show good speed off the bench.
Owned and bred by her owners, Dennis and Norine Grenier, the 4-year-old filly by Unusual Heat has $205,800 in earnings from a record of 10-3-2-2.
The Valentine Dancer, which will be run as Saturday’s fifth race, with jockeys and weights in post position order: Toomanytomatoes, Kevin Krigger, 118; Best Present Ever, Martin Pedroza, 120; Tiz Flirtatious, Rafael Bejarano, 120; Chokecherymary, Julien Leparoux, 116; Secret Cove, Garrett Gomez, 118; Miss Becca, Edwin Maldonado, 116; Halo Dolly, Joe Talamo, 123, and Dancingtothestars, Mario Gutierrez, 116.
SPEED ABOUNDS IN $300,000 CALIFORNIA BREEDERS CHAMPION STAKES FOR 3-YEAR-OLD FILLIES AT ONE MILE, NINE OF 11 STRETCHING OUT
With nine of the 11 entrants stretching out off of their most recent races, Saturday’s $300,000 California Breeders Champion Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at one mile figures to be hotly contested early.
Isolating a favorite will be difficult and it appears any one of four fillies could merit top billing: Steve Specht’s Marks Mine, Mike Puype’s Home Journey, Jeff Bonde’s Unusual Way, or Jerry Hollendorfer’s Doinghardtimeagain—and, top to bottom, a case could be made for any of the 11 to possibly win.
Marks Mine comes off an impressive 4 ½-length allowance win going six furlongs at Golden Gate Fields on Jan. 6 and was an eye-catching winner of the six furlong Golden Gate Debutante on Dec. 1. With a 5-3-1-1 mark and $99,150 in earnings, she’ll be trying two turns for the first time.
A Mr. and Mrs. Larry D. Williams homebred daughter of Benchmark, Marks Mine will be handled by Bay Area-based Abel Cedillo, who has ridden her in all of her starts.
Home Journey earned a race-best 85 Beyer Speed figure in winning a 6 ½ furlong allowance on Nov. 9, and was made the 3-5 favorite in the restricted Soviet Problem Stakes on Dec. 9 on the strength of that win. Although the daughter of Good Journey gave way and finished last in the seven furlong affair, she should be well supported on Saturday as she tries to rebound with regular rider Aaron Gryder.
Owned by GGG Stable or Sarno, Home Journey has earnings of $62,800 from a mark of 3-2-0-0.
A multiple stakes winning daughter of Unusual Heat, Unusual Way comes off a second-place run to Doinghardtimeagain in the Soviet Problem. Owned by Brown, Jr., or Lebherz, Unusual Way will stretch out for the first time on Saturday and will again be ridden by Rafael Bejarano. She has 6-3-1-0 record and $183,610 in earnings.
A gem of consistency, Doinghardtimeagain was second, beaten a half-length in the 1 1/16 miles Cal Cup Juvenile on Oct. 13 and she has two consecutive wins since, including the Soviet Problem score. A daughter of Ministers Wild Cat, she is a Tommy Town Thoroughbreds homebred. She has earnings of $198,500 from a mark of 4-2-2-0.
KORINER’S WEEWINNIN BIDS FOR TWO STAKES IN-A-ROW IN $300,000 CALIFORNIA BREEDERS CHAMPION STAKES, WIDE OPEN FIELD OF 11
Weewinnin, who blew out the Betfair Hollywood Park toteboard at 60-1 to win the state-bred King Glorious Stakes on Dec. 16, will tackle two turns for the first time in Saturday’s $300,000 California Breeders Champion Stakes at one mile.
Drawn outside in a field of 11, it’ll be up to jockey Jose Valdivia Jr. to tuck in and save as much ground as he can to the Club House turn. Although he was dismissed in the King Glorious at long odds, the son of Comic Strip ran a good fourth, beaten 4 ¼ lengths in the Graduation Stakes at Del Mar on Aug. 1. A first-out maiden $32,000 claiming winner on June 16 at Golden Gate Fields, Weewinnin is owned by E-Racing.Com or Gray or Lyons and partners. With two wins from three starts, he has earnings of $125,900. He is trained by Brian Koriner.
Trainer John Sadler will send out Lee and Susan Searing’s homebred Monument, who won the Cal Cup Juvenile at Santa Anita going 1 1/16 miles on Oct. 13 and who comes off a close third as the 2-1 favorite to Weewinnin in the King Glorious.
With $217,500 in earnings, Monument is easily the leading money earner in the field. He has a record of 6-3-1-1.
Veteran trainer Hector Palma will be represented by Fighting Hussar, who rallied to be second to Weewinnin in the King Glorious. With a 6-2-1-2 record, he has the benefit of added seasoning and will also be trying a route of ground for the first time. By Rockport Harbor, he is owned by B G Stable or Palma and has earnings of $126,200.
Although he’s lightly raced and is also trying two turns for the first time, Omega Star broke his maiden in a fashion that would suggest two turns could be right up his alley. A facile three-length winner going 6 ½ furlongs on Dec. 31, the gelding by Candy Ride is trained by John Shirreffs and is owned by his breeders, Martin Wygod and Herman Sarkowsky. He has a win and a second from two starts and $46,000 in earnings.
The California Breeders Champion Stakes, which will be run as the seventh race, with jockeys and weights in post position order: Omega Star, Julien Leparoux, 117; Alydidit, Orlando Mojica, 117; Major Truth, Alonso Quinonez, 117; O Wild West Wind, Edwin Maldonado, 117; Lovmeister, Martin Pedroza, 117; Fighting Hussar, Rafael Bejarano, 119; China Prince, Joe Talamo, 117; Monument, Juan Hernandez, 122; Tiz a Minister, Garrett Gomez, 117; Surfcup, Martin Garcia, and Weewinnin, Jose Valdivia, Jr., 122.
HARRIS FARMS’ JOHN SCOTT TRIES TURF FOR FIRST TIME IN $100,000 CRYSTAL WATER STAKES, FIELD OF EIGHT IN PROSPECT
Harris Farms’ John Scott, who has been facing top horses in his last two starts, takes a notable drop in class as he tries turf for the first time in Saturday’s $100,000 Crystal Water Stakes for older horses bred or sired in California at 1 1/8 miles.
Third at 7-2 in the Grade II San Pascual Stakes on Jan. 5, the 6-year-old gelded son of Bertrando should be very tough on or near the early lead in the Crystal Water. A winner at 1 1/16 miles, he’s never been as far as a mile and one eighth.
With a record of 11-5-1-2, John Scott has earnings of $400,304. Bred in California by Harris Farms, Inc., and Scott Gross, he’s trained by Carla Gaines and will be ridden for the first time by Martin Garcia.
Like John Scott, Big Bane Theory exits a graded stakes race—in his case the Grade II Sir Beaufort at one mile on turf on opening day, a race in which the lightly raced 4-year-old by Arte Schiller ran fourth, beaten three lengths.
A winner over the course at the Crystal Water distance on Nov. 2, Big Bane Theory is 5-2-0-1, with earnings of $102,720. He’s owned by his breeders, Mark Devereaux or Scott Gross. Like John Scott, he’s also trained by Carla Gaines.
Idle since Aug. 3, the John Sadler-trained Stoney Fleece would be appear to be a major player in the Crystal Water. A winner at two of the Grade III Generous Stakes, he is also a winner of the 1 1/16 miles turf Alcatraz at Golden Gate Fields and is multiple stakes-place.
He has an outstanding record of 15-5-3-2, with earnings of $317,058.
The Crystal Water, which has been carded as Saturday’s ninth race, with jockeys and weights in post position order: Jules Journey, David Flores, 118; Swift Eagle, Garrett Gomez, 116; Big Bane Theory, Julien Leparoux, 118; Huntsville, Juan Hernandez, 118; Circle the Moon, Alonso Quinonez, 116; John Scott, Martin Garcia, 123; Stoney Fleece, Joe Talamo, 120, and Thrityfirststreet, Rafael Bejarano, 116.