“We’ll run her next year. That’s the plan,” said owner Vern Dubinsky, who purchased the filly for $40,000 as a yearling. “After this race she’ll go to Waver Tree Farm in Ocala (Florida) for a nice break and then we’ll get her ready to run as a 4-year-old.”
As for the race itself, it will be no surprise to see the Alabama winner setting the pace.
“She’s got a lot of natural speed so she’ll be on the lead or close to the lead,” Carroll said. “Music Note has early speed as well, and she’s capable of sitting close to her and will be there in the stretch. Rainbow View ran a big race at Woodbine in her last and will be running at us at the end.
“This is the Breeders’ Cup and they’ll all be running at us. This is a really good field and it will be a really good test.”
Cocoa Beach - The 2008 Ladies’ Classic runner-up walked the shedrow of Godolphin’s barn at Santa Anita Thursday morning, one day away from her second attempt at the Friday race for fillies and mares. She comes off a third-place finish in the Oct. 10 Lady’s Secret, an event won by the unbeaten Zenyatta.
“She’s a filly that improves all the time, she’s looking much better than before she ran in the Lady’s Secret,” said trainer Saeed bin Suroor, who arrived from Dubai Wednesday afternoon and was onsite Thursday to watch his horses gallop. “Early in the season I wasn’t really happy with her, but she’s doing really good now and coming into it well.”
Cocoa Beach is a 5yo daughter of Doneraile Court who raced extensively in Chile before she was purchased by Godolphin and moved to Dubai for the early part of the 2008 racing season, then to the United States later in the year. She was the 2yo filly champion of Chile and won Horse of the Year honors there in 2008.
Lethal Heat – The 4yo filly took her final pre-race exam for Friday’s Ladies’ Classic on Thursday morning and passed with flying colors, according to trainer Barry Abrams.
“She galloped 1 1/2m, spent 20 minutes in the paddock to simulate race-day action without the crowd, and then stood in the gate for about five minutes,” Abrams said.
“I stood her in the small gate [near the head of the stretch] so she could look down the stretch from where they’ll start in the mile and an eighth race.”
As for race strategy, Abrams said, “I let the jockey decide. He knows the horse and he’s ridden her many times. If I make any plan, and it doesn’t work when they come out of the gate, then it messes everything up.”
Co-owner Madeline Auerbach is looking at the race from a perspective beyond that of simply an owner. She is also co-breeder, as well as co-owner, of Lethal Heat’s sire, Unusual Heat, who is heading toward his second straight year as California’s top stallion. Auerbach can’t help but think of what siring a Breeders’ Cup champion would mean to the stallion.
“I think it would give him the recognition that he deserves,” she said. “I think he’s every bit as good as any of the stallions in Kentucky. If he had been able to start out with the same high-end mares, he would be in their class.”
Even so, Auerbach doesn’t expect Kentucky breeders to come calling.
“He’s coming up on 20 years, so I don’t think they will be calling,” she said. “I don’t think I’d let him go [to Kentucky], anyway. In his past couple of books, some of the top California breeders have sent their A-list broodmares instead of the B-list.”
Unusual Heat’s progeny earned $5.8 million last year and have compiled $4.5 million so far this year.
Life Is Sweet – Owner-breeder Marty Wygod said Thursday that life should be sweeter for his 4yo filly without the daunting presence of Zenyatta in the Ladies’ Classic. Life Is Sweet has chased the unbeaten champion mare to the finish line in three of her last four races.
"It breaks my heart that Zenyatta is not in the race," Wygod said with a laugh.
"I have a good feeling about her," Wygod said. "I think she's back where she was earlier this year. She was tying up at Del Mar and I think you will see the Life Is Sweet you saw at Santa Anita last winter and spring (when she won three straight stakes, including the Grade 1 Santa Margarita Handicap).
"Of course, a lot depends on how the race unfolds," Wygod added. "We'll have to see whether anybody can put pressure on Careless Jewel (expected to show speed from the rail). But Life Is Sweet will be flying at the end."
Life Is Sweet is trained by John Shirreffs, who won the Ladies’ Classic last year with Zenyatta. Life Is Sweet galloped around the main track early Thursday morning with exercise rider Isabelle Bournez aboard.Mushka – Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott knows a little bit about what it takes to win the Ladies’ Classic, formerly known as the Distaff. Mott won back-to-back editions of the race with Ajina and Escena in 1997-98, and he believes Mushka, a daughter of Empire Maker, has a similar pre-race profile.
“I feel as good about her going in as I did about them,” said Mott, who has won five Cup races in his career. “Neither one of those fillies was what anybody thought would be an easy winner going in. They had to run their race and work for it; the same with Mushka.”
The Brushwood Stable filly didn’t get to run her race in the Spinster at Keeneland in her final Ladies’ Classic prep, but was awarded the victory when the stewards disqualified fellow Ladies’ Classic contender Proviso for coming out on Mushka.
“She had a huge effort in the Spinster,” Mott said. “It’s probably debatable whether she’d have won that race or not (without the interference), but it was still a very good race for her.”
Mushka went out early for a Thursday morning gallop and then stood in the starting gate after her exercise.
Music Note – The 4yo daughter of A.P. Indy walked the Godolphin shedrow at Santa Anita Thursday morning, her preparations completed for a start in the Ladies’ Classic. Last year she finished third behind stablemate Cocoa Beach in second and the unbeaten Zenyatta in the 1 1/8m race.
“She’s won two of three starts this year, and she’s much better now than she was any time in the year,” said trainer Saeed bin Suroor. “She’s in very good form and I’m happy with her.”
Proviso – The 4yo filly galloped once around the main track Thursday with exercise rider Salvador Martinez.
Trainer Bobby Frankel will try to win the race for the second time in three years with the Juddmonte Farms homebred after prevailing with Ginger Punch in 2007.
Chief assistant Humberto Ascanio will deputize for Frankel, who has been running the stable by phone from his home for several months.
Juddmonte racing manager Garrett O'Rourke is also scheduled to be at the track.
Rainbow View – Augustin Stable’s 3yo homebred returned to her early-morning schedule Thursday, and at 6 a.m. she was the first of the European-based horses to visit the main track.
The Dynaformer filly has made all 11 of her career starts on grass, but she is entered in the Ladies’ Classic on the main track because Forever Together, also owned by Augustin Stable, is trying for a repeat victory in the Filly & Mare Turf.
Rainbow View was shipped to Santa Anita after her second-place finish in the E.P. Taylor on Oct. 17 at Woodbine. Trainer John Gosden said the filly seems to be flourishing in her new surroundings.
“Since coming to California she’s certainly eating and looking bigger and better,” he said.