A classy field of eight, headed by Santa Ana Handicap (gr. IIT) winner Noches de Rosa, is entered for the $150,000 Yerba Buena Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. III) for fillies and mares on the Bay Meadows turf Saturday. Noches de Rosa won the Santa Ana, like the Yerba Buena a nine-furlong turf race, by a half-length over Garden In The Rain on March 26 at Santa Anita.
Richard Mandella trains Noches de Rosa, who most recently finished third in the Santa Barbara Handicap (gr. IIT) on April 19. The Santa Barbara was run at 1 1/4 miles and Noches De Rosa was beaten just 2 1/4 lengths by winner Megahertz.
Bred in Chile, Noches de Rosa is a 5-year-old mare who has six victories in 19 career starts. She'll be ridden from the extreme inside post Saturday by Goncalino Almeida and carry 119 pounds.
The Yerba Buena field will also feature the talented French-bred filly Turtle Bow (assigned 119 pounds) and local heroine Lindsay Jean (118).
Turtle Bow won three stakes in France last year, including a Group II event. She made her U.S. debut in the Flower Bowl Handicap (gr. IT) at Belmont Park last September and ran second, beaten a head for the win. She then ran ninth in the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf (gr. IT) but was beaten less than four lengths by winner Starine.
Turtle Bow made her first start of 2003 in the Wilshire Handicap (gr. IIIt) at Hollywood Park on April 27 and finished sixth. Trainer Laura De Seroux expects Turtle Bow to bounce back with a big effort Saturday.
"She'd been off since the Breeders' Cup and didn't have a good trip in the Wilshire," said De Seroux. "The Yerba Buena looks like a race she can probably win. I want a good confidence builder for her and then she can come back in the Beverly Hills Handicap (a Grade II $200,000 turf race at 1 1/4 miles on June 28 at Hollywood Park).
"She's very, very good," De Seroux continued. "She's a top class filly as you can see from her European form. She's a sounder filly now. She needed some ankle surgery and we've done that. I think the turf course up there will suit her."
Turtle Bow has five wins and two seconds in 11 career starts and will be ridden from post four Saturday by Russell Baze.
Lindsay Jean, trained by Art Sherman, will be seeking her third straight stakes victory. The 5-year-old mare won the Brown Bess Handicap (gr. IIIT) on the turf at Golden Gate Fields on Feb. 1 and the Miss America Handicap on the Bay Meadows lawn on April 5.
"This will be the real test for her," said Sherman. "I'm anxious to try her against these horses. I've never had her this good. She's gotten to relax (in her works and races) and that's what I really love. She's starting to know what it's all about. I think she's sitting on 'go' right now. It's exciting to have a horse that can compete in these kind of races."
Jockey Chad Schvaneveldt has the call on Lindsay Jean, who has three wins and two seconds in six tries on the Bay Meadows turf. Overall, Lindsay Jean, who drew the outside post, has six victories in 23 career starts and $310,910 in earnings.
$150,000 Yerba Buena Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. IIIT), fillies & mares 3 & up, 1 1/8 mile on turf
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Noches De Rosa (CHI), 119, Goncalino Feijo Almeida
2. Chiming (IRE), 116, Corey S. Nakatani
3. Snowflake (IRE), 116, Frank T. Alvarado
4. Turtle Bow (FR), 119, Russell A. Baze
5. Miss Pitz (GB), 115, Paul Atkinson
6. Aunt Sophie (WA), 115, Roberto M. Gonzalez
7. Notting Hill (BRZ), 116, Chance J. Rollins
8. Lindsay Jean (FL), 118, Chad Phillip Schvaneveldt