Lady of Shamrock, who just missed in her first try off the bench last month, is a clear standout in the $150,000 Santa Barbara Handicap (gr. IIT) April 20 over the Santa Anita Park turf course.
The dual grade I winner faces six older filly and mare opponents, all seeking their first North American stakes score in the 1 1/4-mile Santa Barbara. The Santa Barbara is the fourth race on the penultimate card of the 2012-13 Santa Anita meet. The race is scheduled to go off at 2:02 p.m. PDT. Later on the program is another grass stakes, the $100,000 San Simeon Stakes (gr. III) on the hillside turf course.
Trained by John Sadler for Hronis Racing, 4-year-old Lady of Shamrock won last year's American Oaks (gr. IT) at the Santa Barbara distance, as well at the Del Mar Oaks (gr. IT) at nine furlongs. She went on to meet older rivals for the first time in the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf (gr. IT) at 1 1/4 miles Nov. 2, finishing a respectable fifth after being forced to wait for room in the stretch.
MOST WINS BY A HORSE: Megahertz (GB) 3 (2003-2005).
MOST WINS BY A JOCKEY: Laffit Pincay, Jr. 8. Active – Kent Desormeaux 6.
MOST WINS BY A TRAINER: Charlie Whittingham 7.
BIGGEST LONGSHOT WINNER (since 1993): Tranquility Lake (1999), paid $13.40 to win.
FASTEST TIME: Bequest (1901) 1:57 2/5.
FACTOIDS: Alex Solis is the only jockey to win the Santa Barbara three straight years, all aboard Megahertz (GB). Brice Blanc has ridden the past two aboard Malibu Pier (2011) and Capital Plan (2012).
Compiled by Gary Dougherty
In her first start back, the Santa Ana Stakes (gr. IIT) March 24, Lady of Shamrock had an awkward start from her rail post position and trailed the field for three-quarters of a mile. The even-money favorite charged home gamely, however, only to lose by one length to the well-regarded Tiz Flirtatious in the 1 1/8-mile event.
Rafael Bejarano replaces Mike Smith aboard the deep-closing filly, a daughter of Scat Daddy out of the Blushing John mare Blushing Issue. She will break from post 4 carrying top weight of 123 pounds; she spots her opponents from six to nine pounds.
Lady of Shamrock, who will need some pace to produce her best effort, has a stellar record of 6-2-1 in 12 tries and earnings of $735,400.
Three others in the field come into the Santa Barbara after allowance victories: The Only Key and Caelis, a pair of British-bred mares, and Double Ante.
The Only Key, owned by former Santa Anita president Ron Charles, was an impressive 3 1/4-length winner April 5 at the Santa Barbara distance. Trained by Dean Greenman, she was under consideration for the closing-day San Juan Capistrano Handicap (gr. IIT) at 1 3/4 miles, indicating the distance should be an asset for the 7-year-old daughter of Key of Luck, carrying 114. Talented Kevin Krigger rides the former claimer from the rail.
Caelis, trained by Peter Miller, won a one-mile test by a nose with a game late bid March 29, her first start in more than nine months. Corey Nakatani rides the 5-year-old for the first time. Brous Stable and Wachtel Stable own Caelis, who has a win and three seconds from five starts on the Santa Anita turf.
George Krikorian's Double Ante, a lightly raced 4-year-old trained by Art Sherman, posted an authoritative 2 1/4-length win going one mile March 16 and will try 10 furlongs for the first time. The Purim filly will be guided for the first time by Tyler Baze.
A third English-bred in the field, 5-year-old Moone's My Name, missed by a neck in her U.S. Debut April 7 in the American Beauty Stakes. The multiple stakes winner in England is also trained by Sadler for Batchelor Family Trust and Judi Partridge.
Rounding out the field is Argentina-bred Viva Carina, third last time to Caelis, and Long Face, who was fourth in the Santa Ana.
$150,000 Santa Barbara Handicap (gr. IIT, Race 4, 2:02 p.m.), Fillies & Mares 4 & Up, 1 1/4 Miles (Turf)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. The Only Key (GB), K Krigger, 114, D Greenman
2. Caelis (GB), C S Nakatani, 117, P Miller
3. Long Face (KY), D R Flores, 116, P L Biancone
4. Lady of Shamrock (KY), R Bejarano, 123, J W Sadler
5. Double Ante (KY), T Baze, 114, A Sherman
6. Viva Carina (ARG), V Espinoza, 115, A C Avila
7. Moone's My Name (GB), J Talamo, 117, J W Sadler