Idle for more than 11 months, Kindle will put her blazing speed to the test as part of a deep field in the $200,000 Monrovia Stakes (gr. IIT) on the Santa Anita Park hillside turf course Jan. 5.
Ten older fillies and mares are to start in the Monrovia at about 6 1/2 furlongs. The Sunday feature is the eighth on the card with a 4 p.m. PST scheduled post.
Kindle, who should show the way in spite of some other speed in the lineup, has not run since failing to outlast Teddy's Promise and finishing third in the Jan. 26 Santa Monica Stakes (gr. II) at seven furlongs on a wet-fast Santa Anita main track. She was second to Mizdirection after setting a hot pace (:21.70, :43.50) in last year's Monrovia prior to that. The consistent 6-year-old daughter of Indian Charlie has four wins and four placings from 10 lifetime starts for trainer Gary Mandella and owner HnR Nothhaft Horse Racing.
Rafael Bejarano will be aboard the bay mare, who seeks her first graded win in her return journey. They will break from post 2 on the course where Kindle has two seconds from as many starts. She was cuaght late each time after opening a daylight advantage in the stretch.
"She’s doing really well," Mandella said. "She does have a lot of speed, but in a perfect world, I would love to think, as an older mare, she’d be able to sit off one or two (horses), because she did get nailed at the wire twice going down the hill."
Kindle has been working nicely at Betfair Hollywood Park, posting a five-furlong drill Dec. 29 in 1:00 4/5 on the Cushion Track.
"Very nice," is how Mandella termed the drill. "We’re ready now."
Trainer Tom Proctor and jockey Gary Stevens enjoyed much success in Southern California during 2013 and will team again with Glen Hill Farm's Pontchatrain, who had back-to-back stakes wins for Stevens on the hillside this fall including a one-length tally in the Sen. Ken Maddy (gr. IIIT) Nov. 2.
The 4-year-old Kentucky-bred filly by War Chant earned a career-best 92 Beyer figure that day as the 2-1 favorite. She has been in steady training since the latest win, most recently recording a bullet five-furlong move in :59 flat at Santa Anita Dec. 31.
Pontchatrain, who starts from post 8, has won four of six lifetime starts.
Proctor also saddles Purim's Dancer, a close fifth in the Maddy. She'll be ridden from gate 3 by Joe Talamo.
Among others who ran in the Maddy are Winding Way and Judy In Disguise, second and third, respectively.
Grade III winner Winding Way, from the Carla Gaines stable for owner/breeder Spendthrift Farm, returned to run third Dec. 7 in an allowance/optional claimer by less than a length to Monrovia foe Golden Production. Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners' British-bred Judy in Disguise has since posted a pair of game seconds at Hollywood Park, including a loss to Teddy's Promise on Cushion Track in the Playa Del Rey Dec. 15.
"She ran really well," trainer Simon Callaghan said of Judy In Disguise, who won the Sweet Life sprinting on Santa Anita's turf course last Feb. 16. "I think maybe she's a touch better on grass. But she's doing well and we've been really happy with the way she's been training. She came out of the race at Hollywood in good shape and we're hopeful of a good run."
Golden Production, claimed for $40,000 off Jay Em Ess Stable and Ron Ellis by Myron Miller, is on a three-race win streak for trainer Peter Miller. The 5-year-old Exchange Rate mare makes her stakes debut with new rider Edwin Maldonado. She had four wins and four seconds from 10 lifetime starts with Talamo aboard.
Miller also entered Ciao Bella Luna, winner of the Beaumont Stakes (gr. II) on the Polytrack at Keeneland in April. She has just one start on grass, finishing off the board.
Trainer John Sadler’s Sky High Gal, freshened since running fourth in the Maddy, will be handled for the first time by Corey Nakatani. Owned by Hronis Racing, the 4-year-old filly by Leroidesanimaux has three wins and a second from six starts.
Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert has Ultrasonic, a first-time starter in the United States for Juddmonte Farms. The 5-year-old Mizzen Mast mare hasn't reached the wire first very often, just twice in 15 starts in England, but has seven placings. She raced against group III company three times in 2013 with two fourths and a fifth.
$200,000 Monrovia Stakes (gr. IIT, Race 8, 4 p.m.), Fillies & Mare 4 & Up, About 6 1/2 Furlongs (Turf)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Judy In Disguise (GB), M Garcia, 118, S Callaghan
2. Kindle (KY), R Bejarano, 118, G Mandella
3. Purim's Dancer (KY), J Talamo, 118, T F Proctor
4. Golden Production (PA), E A Maldonado, 118, P Miller
5. Ciao Bella Luna (KY), M A Pedroza, 120, P Miller
6. Sky High Gal (KY), C S Nakatani, 118, J W Sadler
7. Ultrasonic (KY), M E Smith, 118, B Baffert
8. Pontchatrain (KY), G L Stevens, 118, T F Proctor
9. Camryn Kate (KY), T Baze, 118, N French
10. Winding Way (KY), V Espinoza, 118, C Gaines
Blinkers Off: Ciao Bella Luna; Blinkers On: Ultrasonic