Dearest Trickski’s road to the Sentient Flight Group Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint began late last year, when the Kalookan Queen Stakes at Santa Anita failed to fill. That pushed the filly into the grade I La Brea Stakes Dec. 29, and a victory there gave owner Tom Mankiewicz and trainer John Sadler grander ideas.
Mankiewicz, a Hollywood director and screenwriter of James Bond films, the TV series Hart to Hart, and numerous other movies, claims horses and hopes they will develop into allowance runners. But Dearest Trickski, like his earlier claim Victory Encounter, who went on to win the 2004 Vanity Handicap (gr. I), soared far beyond the expectations Mankiewicz had when he claimed her for $32,000 in August 2007 at Del Mar.
Following the claim, Dearest Trickski won a $50,000 claiming event and two allowance races for Mankiewicz. Sadler suggested that they try her in a small stakes. Had the Kalookan Queen filled, Dearest Trickski might never have taken the path that has led her to a berth in the $1 million Filly & Mare Sprint Oct. 24.
“It was one of those accidents of racing,” Mankiewicz said. “John says to me, ‘She’s good, but we’re not going to run her in the La Brea. That’s a little stiff. On the Thursday before, there’s an overnight stakes.’ ”
When entries closed, Sadler called Mankiewicz to tell him that the stakes attracted only four horses and wouldn’t go.
“Let’s go for the La Brea; she’s ready to run,” Sadler told Mankiewicz. “And Mike Smith is available to ride her.”
Mankiewicz was thrilled because Smith had ridden Victory Encounter in the 2004 El Encino Stakes (gr. II), the owner’s first graded stakes win.
Dearest Trickski broke like a rocket in the La Brea and scored by 1 1/2 lengths, prompting Smith to compare her explosiveness to that of a Quarter Horse. She has since added three other stakes and will be on the muscle for the seven-furlong Filly & Mare Sprint.
Sadler kept Dearest Trickski with his Hollywood Park string until a week before the Breeders’ Cup so she could stay in her regular barn. But he said the Florida-bred 4-year-old daughter of Proudest Romeo — Trickski, by Peteski, isn’t at all nervous about her upcoming race, unlike her owner.
“Tom’s chain smoking,” Sadler said.
Two people who will also be rooting for Dearest Trickski are Jerry and Ann Moss, who will run Zenyatta the same day in the Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic. Mankiewicz and the Mosses have been friends for years and once owned horses together as the Run for Fun Bunch.
The Filly & Mare Sprint has attracted plenty of early speed, with front-running Indian Blessing expected to be the favorite. Dearest Trickski only knows one way to travel — on the lead — but her gameness gives her a chance, especially with the defection of Indyanne, another front-runner, due to a fever.
“She just keeps going like a little engine,” said Mankiewicz. “I love a horse that likes to win.”