Valentine Dancer, winner of the $500,000 Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Turf Jan. 24, and Victory Encounter, who captured the El Encino (gr. II) a week earlier, head the field for Saturday's $200,000 La Canada Stakes (gr. II) at Santa Anita.
A field of eight goes in the 1 1/8-mile La Canada, which is for 4-year-old fillies. All have won or placed in stakes races.
The California-bred 3-year-old filly of the year last year, Valentine Dancer got the new season off to a fine start in the Sunshine Millions. She now has three stakes victories, but is seeking her first graded stakes score for owners Al and Sandee Kirkwood and trainer Craig Lewis.
Victory Encounter, who defeated Valentine Dancer in the Torrey Pines Stakes at Del Mar five months ago, won the El Encino Jan. 18 in her first start since. Owned by Tom Mankiewcicz and trained by John Sadler, she has won four consecutive races and six straight on dirt. Sadler claimed her in April for $32,000.
She'll be going nine furlongs for the first time in her career. But she came from off the pace in the 1 1/16-mile El Encino, which is the second leg of the three-race La Canada series, to triumph by a length over Personal Legend.
In her stakes debut, Cat Fighter was third in the El Encino. Atlantic Ocean will be trying to snap an eight-race losing streak, all coming in stakes races for trainer Bob Baffert.$200,000 La Canada Stakes (gr. II, 4:07 PST), 4-year-old fillies, 1 1/8 mile
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Victory Encounter (KY), 121, Mike E. Smith
2. Atlantic Ocean (FL), 118, Tyler Baze
3. Cat Fighter (KY), 114, Alex O. Solis
4. Tangle (IRE), 114, Kent J. Desormeaux
5. Bartok's Blithe (CA), 118, Javier Santiago
6. Sea Jewel (KY), 114, Corey S. Nakatani
7. Fencelineneighbor (FL), 116, Victor Espinoza
8. Valentine Dancer (CA), 121, David R. Flores