The good news for the connections of Carina Mia is they found an indisputable cause for her disappointing effort in last November's Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1). Unfortunately, the reason went beyond the simple excuse they had hoped to find.
When Carina Mia crossed the wire ninth as the favorite in Filly & Mare Sprint, having not shown so much as a hint of her early speed, the effort was too bad to be believed from the daughter of Malibu Moon , who had been worse than third once in nine prior starts.
Sure enough, she was found to have an entrapped epiglottis and an already planned freshening got extended to let Three Chimneys Farm's filly fully recover.
On March 17, Carina Mia put in her fifth timed move since returning to the barn of trainer Bill Mott, covering four furlongs in :49 2/5 at Payson Park Training Center. With the May 6 Humana Distaff (G1) at Churchill Downs penciled in for her 4-year-old debut, the dark bay filly could be a prime contender to reign over a wide-open female sprint division should she return to the form that carried her to victories in the Acorn Stakes (G1) and Eight Belles Stakes (G2) in 2016.
"She's doing well. There were hopes of trying to make the Madison (G1, at Keeneland April 8) but it's just going to come up a little early," said Doug Cauthen, vice chairman of Three Chimneys Farm. "Hopefully she'll be ready for the Humana Distaff, so all fingers are crossed.
"I honestly thought she would have won the Filly & Mare Sprint … but she didn't fire and at least we found an excuse. She had a little too much of an excuse unfortunately—they're walking around there with a baseball in their throat basically. But hopefully she'll come back as well or better."
Carina Mia has proven form over a route of ground—winning the 2015 Golden Rod Stakes (G2) going 1 1/16 miles and running second to champion Songbird in the 1 1/8-mile Coaching Club American Oaks Stakes (G1) last July. Seven to eight furlongs is what hits her square between the eyes, however, and will likely be the wheelhouse she remains in for her 2017 campaign.
"I think you have to play it by ear, but she's extremely good at seven and eight furlongs, so I don't think there is any reason to go elsewhere unless a 1 1/16-mile race or a 1 1/8-mile race came up, and you thought it was the right fit," Cauthen said. "I think she's going to be real tough to beat at seven furlongs. That's the immediate plan."
Bred by Spendthrift Farm and purchased by Three Chimneys for $410,000 at the 2014 Keeneland September yearling sale, Carina Mia boasts a 4-3-1 record from 10 starts with $1,054,120 in earnings. She is 2-for-2 at Churchill Downs, winning the Golden Rod and Eight Belles by a combined 10 1/4 lengths.
"She certainly is very strong and powerful, she's filled out even more," Cauthen said. "We just have to keep her healthy going forward."