Gary Tanaka's Del Mar Oaks (gr. IT) winner Golden Apples put in an easy half-mile breeze Wednesday ahead of her start in Saturday's $250,000 Santa Barbara Handicap (gr. IIT) at Santa Anita. The 4-year-old daughter of Pivotal enters the 1 1/4-mile Santa Barbara off a 1 1/4-length win in the Santa Ana Handicap (gr. IIT), a race which attracted five grade I winners.
The late-runner has raced 1 1/4 miles on one prior occasion, finishing third in the Pretty Polly Stakes (Ire-II) won by Rebelline, who recently defeated Johannesburg in the seven-furlong Gladness Stakes. Following that race, she was transferred to trainer Ben Cecil, who has kept her on a steady diet of nine-furlong races.
"We've never been a mile and-a-quarter with her, but I don't think it will be a problem," said Cecil. "She's so 'switched-off' early, and then she comes with that huge late run. She's as good a horse as we've ever had. If we can keep her in one piece, we should have lots of fun with her later on."
Cecil was pleased with Golden Apple's easy work, especially following the filly's six-furlong work in 1:12 around the dogs last week.
"Her previous work was a little stronger that what we wanted," admitted Cecil. "But it's also as good a work as I've seen."
Golden Apples drew post-position five and will be ridden by her regular rider, Garrett Gomez. Astra, who finished third in the Santa Ana, drew post two.
The Santa Barbara field will consist of:
1--Desiraes My Candy, Laffit Pincay Jr., 114
2--Astra, Kent Desormeaux, 121
3--Blue Moon, Brice Blanc, 115
4--Old Money, Chris McCarron, 116
5--Golden Apples, Garrett Gomez, 121
6--Polaire, Patrick Valenzuela, 114