Two proven graded stakes-winning sprinters will test their skill stretching out to two turns in the $200,000 La Canada Stakes (gr. II) Jan. 16 at Santa Anita Park.
Taris, a three-time graded stakes winner at distances ranging from 6 1/2 furlongs to a one-turn mile, and last-out La Brea (gr. I, seven furlongs) winner Birdatthewire have drawn the outside posts in the field of seven for the 1 1/16-mile dirt test.
ANGST: Birdatthewire Prevails in La Brea
Both have two-turn experience, but only Birdatthewire has won at the La Canada trip. The 4-year-old Summer Bird filly—previously trained by Dale Romans, but now in the Tom Proctor barn—earned a victory in last year's Gulfstream Park Oaks (gr. II) at 1 1/16 miles and was 5-1 when she finished fifth in the Longines Kentucky Oaks (gr. I). Taris' only two-turn try came back in 2014, when she came in sixth in the Honeybee (gr. III) back when she was trained by Todd Beattie.
Now under the supervision of Simon Callaghan, the speedy 5-year-old Flatter mare showed signs she could handle the extra distance when she won the one-turn mile Go For Wand Handicap (gr. III) at Aqueduct Racetrack last time out, her first start beyond seven furlongs since the Honeybee.
NOVAK: Taris Rolls Clear in Go for Wand
For Callaghan, the La Canada is somewhat of a test. If Taris relishes the distance, she could go in the 1 1/8-mile Santa Margarita (gr. I) at Santa Anita March 19 for her next start. If she doesn't, she can return to her comfort zone for the seven-furlong Madison (gr. I) at Keeneland April 9.
"Now is the time of year to really figure out if she can stretch out," Callaghan said. "We've always felt she can. She's out of a Theatrical mare, which is really stamina-oriented, and she's relaxing so well in her works—when before, she was a little difficult. Now is the time to feel out a little extra distance."
The only other graded winner in the field is DP Racing's Yahilwa, who figures to be near the front of the field with Taris. A 6-year-old Medaglia d'Oro mare, the Jim Cassidy trainee won her lone graded score at Hawthorne Racecourse last April when she came in 2 1/2 lengths ahead of the field in the Sixty Sails Handicap (gr. III), but has been wading in grade I waters recently.
BALAN: Yahilwa Recovers to Win Sixty Sails Handicap
Yahilwa finished sixth last time out in the Breeders' Cup Distaff (gr. I) and was only a neck second to Got Lucky in the Spinster (gr. I) Oct. 4, both at Keeneland.
Graded stakes-placed Oscar Party and Tara's Tango, along with allowance winners Honey Ride and Illuminant, complete the field.
Santa Anita Park, Saturday, January 16, 2016, Race 7
PP Horse Jockey Wgt Trainer M/L 1 1Tara's Tango (KY) Martin Garcia 118 Jerry Hollendorfer 4/1 2 2Illuminant (PA) Flavien Prat 118 Michael W. McCarthy 8/1 3 3Oscar Party (KY) Santiago Gonzalez 118 James M. Cassidy 20/1 4 4Honey Ride (KY) Tyler Baze 118 John W. Sadler 12/1 5 5Yahilwa (KY) Mike E. Smith 118 James M. Cassidy 5/2 6 6Birdatthewire (KY) Drayden Van Dyke 120 Thomas F. Proctor 3/1 7 7Taris (KY) Gary L. Stevens 118 Simon Callaghan 2/1