Santa Anita's troubled Cushion Track is undergoing repairs this week, but officials have assured horsemen and fans that racing will be back to normal Feb. 9 with a program that includes the $250,000 Santa Maria Handicap (gr. I). Just in case, Baffert and Sadler entered their charges in both races. Were both to scratch from the La Canada, there would be just four left to vie in the 1 1/8-mile synthetic track event for 4-year-old fillies.
“I’d rather run her for $50,000 more and in a grade I,” Baffert said of Tough Tiz's Sis.
The grade I winner Tough Tiz's Sis has top weight of 124 pounds for the La Canada, five more than she was assigned for the Santa Maria, which is open to older distaffers as well. The Tiznow filly captured the Lady's Secret (gr. I) over the track by a nose Oct. 7, but has lost three straight since then. She began 2008 with a troubled second in the El Encino (gr. II), the second leg of the La Canada series on Jan. 13.
Owned by Watson and Weitman Performances, the bay filly has a 5-3-2 lifetime record in 14 starts and produced earnings of $449,872. The Kentucky-bred won four of her 10 starts in 2007. Victor Espinoza, who rode Tough Tiz's Sis in the El Encino and Lady's Secret, has the return ride. Tough Tiz's Sis would spot her rivals seven pounds each.
Dawn After Dawn ran third in the Ashland Stakes (gr. I) on Keeneland's Polytrack last April. She, too, comes out of the El Encino, where she finished fourth for Sadler, who ranks second by one win behind Doug O'Neill in the current Santa Anita trainer standings. Ike and Dawn Thrash own the Florida-bred daughter of Successful Appeal who is seeking her first stakes win.
The others in the La Canada are making their North American stakes debuts. Of those, Michael Bello's Down, trained by Bobby Frankel, and Darley Stable's Say You Will, an Irish-bred conditioned by Eoin Harty, look the best.
Down has won just twice in 11 career starts, but the gray is coming off her best effort yet -- a game three-quarters of a length triumph over first-level allowance foes at 1 1/16 miles Jan. 10. The Maryland-bred daughter of Mr. Greeley had been stuck at the condition since last August, but she has been in the money in her last four starts. Her connections jumped Down from a maiden win on the Belmont Park turf last July into the Darley Test Stakes (gr. I) at Saratoga one month later. She finished 11th in the Test.
Say You Will is coming out of a first-level allowance win on the hillside turf course at about 6 1/2 furlongs Dec. 30 at Santa Anita. The daughter of A.P. Indy had been out of action for more than seven months prior to that. Part of a Darley entry with Caressive, the bay has finished first or second in four of her five starts.
Caressive, a Kentucky bred also trained by Harty, broke her maiden on Hollywood Park's Cushion Track but is making her first start on the Santa Anita synthetic surface. In her last outing Jan. 13, the A.P. Indy filly ran fourth in a 1 1/16-mile allowance heat at Hollywood.
The Argentina-bred Bahia Rosa, yet to awaken at long odds in her two tries at Santa Anita this meet, completes the prospective field. Trained by A.C. Avila, she began her career in her native land with a maiden win in her debut.
$200,000 La Canada Stakes (gr. II, Race 4, 2 p.m.), 4-Year-Old Fillies, 1 1/8 Miles (All Weather)
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Dawn After Dawn (FL), 116, Garrett K. Gomez
2. Caressive (KY), 116, Rafael Bejarano
3. Tough Tiz's Sis (KY), 123, Victor Espinoza
4. Say You Will (IRE), 116, David R. Flores
5. Down (MD), 116, Alex O. Solis
6. Bahia Rosa (ARG), 116, Omar A. Berrio