La Habra Looks to be Up For Grabs
Photo: Wally Skalij
La Mina is one of the many 3-year-old fillies with an opportunity for their first graded stakes victory of the year in the La Habra Stakes.
La Mina, coming off a stakes victory at Golden Gate Fields last month, is one of the many 3-year-old fillies with an opportunity for their first graded stakes victory of the year, in a wide-open field of 10 Feb. 2 in the $100,000 La Habra Stakes (gr. IIIT) on the Santa Anita turf.

The 6 ½-furlong La Habra also features European invaders Porto Marmay and Fanatical – both making their American debuts – promising Todd Pletcher trainee Passion, and Set Play, who has a grade I victory to her credit.

La Mina, owned by M & B Partnership and trained by Mike Mitchell, has won three of her last four starts, including the 2 ½-length score in the one-mile Corte Madera Stakes Dec. 8 at Golden Gate. The daughter of Mineshaft   hung close to the pace before accelerating three-wide through the stretch.

La Mina’s Corte Madera effort was unlike her victory in the Oct. 26 Hidden Life Stakes on the Santa Anita turf, in which she was well off the pace before rallying for the two-length score under Michael Baze. Bred in Kentucky by Dapple Bloodstock, La Mina also broke her maiden on the Santa Anita turf in September. It took her six tries to get it done.

La Mina, out of the Red Ransom mare El Laoob, will break from post six with Baze aboard.

Symposium Racing’s Irish-bred Porto Marmay is coming off a victory in the Danehill Dancer Tipperary Stakes in Ireland, but that was way back on July 21. The Choisir filly has a pair of wins in six lifetime starts.

British-bred Fanatical last raced Oct. 5 at Newmarket, finishing seventh but only three lengths back in a stakes event. A daughter of Mind Games, she broke her maiden in her debut, but has not returned to the winner’s circle in her last five efforts. Two starts ago, however, Fanatical missed by just a nose at Chester.

Passion, owned in partnership by Derrick Smith, John Magnier and Michael Tabor, may be ready to break through for Pletcher after recently being switched to turf. After breaking her maiden by 7 ½ lengths on the Arlington Park Polytrack in July, the Mind Games filly was ambitiously placed in the Adirondack Stakes (gr. II) and later, the Spinaway Stakes (gr. I), both at Saratoga, where she finished third and ninth, respectively.

Pletcher moved Passion to the grass for her last start – a 6 ½-furlong allowance event at Santa Anita Jan. 18 – and she responded by winning by three lengths in gate-to-wire fashion under Garrett Gomez. Rafael Bejarano will get the mount in this one.

Set Play, the only entry with a graded stakes score to her resume, captured the Del Mar Debutante Stakes (gr. I) last September, but has been winless in four starts since, including an eleventh place finish in the Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Filly Oct. 27 at Monmouth Park. The Van Nistelrooy filly is trained by Peter Miller, will break from post 10 with Brian Blanc in the irons, and carry a top weight of 122 pounds.

$100,000 La Habra Stakes (gr. IIIT, Race 6, 2:36 p.m.), Three-Year-Old Fillies, 6 1/2 Furlongs Miles (Turf)
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Porto Marmay (IRE), 116, David Romero Flores
2. Fanatical (GB), 116, Mike E. Smith
3. Czechers (KY), 116, Tyler Baze
4. Ariege (KY), 116, Garrett K. Gomez
5. Yasinisi (IRE), 116, Alex O. Solis
6. La Mina (KY), 116, Michael C. Baze
7. Passion (KY), 118, Rafael Bejarano
8. Brides Folly (KY), 116, Victor Espinoza
9. Sweet August Moon (PA), 116, Aaron T. Gryder
10. Set Play (FL), 122, Brice Blanc

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