The Santa Ana, for older fillies and mares at nine furlongs, drew a competitive field of nine. Colina Verde, a three-time grade I winner in Brazil who won her only North American start last month for trainer Neil Drysdale, was assigned top weight of 117 pounds. Left out of the field for the the Santa Ana was Wait a While, Todd Pletcher's standout turf mare, who is nursing a minor injury.
After beginning her career in England, Costume had a string of four consecutive fourth-place finishes against top company in the United States beginning last September. That ended with her win in the one-mile Buena Vista by a neck over Santa Ana rival Black Mamba Feb. 18.
Frankel credited a change in tactics for turning around the fortunes of Costume, an English-bred 4-year-old daughter of Danehill--Dance Dress, by Nureyev.
“We put her in the race last time,” Frankel said in reference to the Buena Vista. “I think that’s what helped.” Frankel has won seven of the past 16 editions of the Santa Ana.
After being held in reserve in earlier U.S. starts, Costume was forwardly placed in second when teamed with jockey Garrett Gomez for the first time in the Buena Vista. She made an inside bid to gain the lead heading into the stretch and was 2 1/2 lengths clear with a furlong to go. She then held off the charging Black Mamba, who rallied from mid-pack on the outside in deep stretch to make things close.
Gomez once again rides once Costume, assigned 115 pounds. Costume has won two of 11 lifetime starts and earned $219,187.
Doubledown Stables' late-running Black Mamba has now posted three consecutive runner-up finishes in grade II company and has been in the money in each of her six starts for trainer John Sadler. The 5-year-old New Zealand-bred mare was the 17-10 favorite in the Buena Vista but has won just two of her 16 career starts while earning $219,877.
Her best effort might have been a third-place finish behind Nashoba’s Key and Citronnade in last September’s Yellow Ribbon (gr. IT) while beaten by three-quarters of a length. In the Santa Ana, Mike Smith replaces Tyler Baze, who had been aboard for all of Black Mamba's prior U.S. tries.
The Brazilian-bred Colina Verde won three grade I races in Brazil over a two-month period that ended last October. After going to the sidelines, she was purchased by Highfield Stock Farm, Team Valor and Barber. The 5-year-old bay mare returned to action Feb. 11 with a three-quarters of a length win in a one-mile allowance test on the Santa Anita grass. Julien Leparoux replaces the injured Rafael Bejarano for Drysdale.
Also entered in the Santa Ana is the third-place finisher from the Buena Vista, Kris' Sis, who came from far back at odds of 7-1 to finish just 1 1/4 lengths behind Costume for trainer Richard Baltas.
“She ran great,” said jockey Michael Baze of the 5-year-old Forestry mare. “She just kind of needed the race. The time was great, too, 1:34 and change. The only thing that kind of hurt her was she was stuck inside, and she likes to be outside, so I’m hoping for a better draw. If so, she should run big.”
Kris' Sis drew post seven.
Of the others, Lavender Sky is an upset possibility for trainer Dan Hendricks. The 4-year-old Mt. Livermore filly finished second behind Wait a While in the San Gorgonio Handicap (gr. IIT) Jan. 14, then returned to take a first-level allowance race at 10 furlongs by one length Feb. 2.
A second Brazilian-bred, T N T Stud's Immortelle, was runner-up to Colina Verde in her U.S. debut for trainer Paulo Lobo.
English-bred Foxysox, third in the Wishing Well last time out for Carla Gaines, I Can See and Persian Express complete the field.
$150,000 Santa Ana Handicap (gr. IIT, Race 7, 3:30 p.m.), Fillies & mares 4 & Up, 1 1/8 Miles (Turf)
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Lavender Sky (KY), 115, Alex O. Solis
2. Black Mamba (NZ), 116, Mike E. Smith
3. I Can See (KY), 113, Jon K. Court
4. Persian Express (KY), 113, Richard Migliore
5. Colina Verde (BRZ), 117, Julien R. Leparoux
6. Costume (GB), 115, Garrett K. Gomez
7. Kris' Sis (KY), 114, Michael C. Baze
8. Immortelle (BRZ), 114, David R. Flores
9. Foxysox (GB), 116, Victor Espinoza