With a talented trio of 3-year-old fillies, trainer Bob Baffert is looking forward to the $100,000 Santa Ysabel Stakes (gr. III) at Santa Anita Jan. 11.
Nine entered the 1 1/16-mile test. Baffert entered the three fillies that he nominated -- Donald Dizney's Century Park, Zayat Stables' Jemmealey, and and Patti and Hal Earnhardt's Toro Bonito -- after each worked five furlongs over the Pro-Ride surface Jan. 5.
"They're all good fillies," Baffert said.
Toro Bonito, who drilled in :59 3/5, is the most accomplished of the group and is coming into the race following a third-place effort in the Hollywood Starlet (gr. I) at odds of 14-1 on Dec. 13. The homebred daughter of El Corredor , who finished 3 3/4 lengths behind the victorious Laragh in the Starlet, preceded that effort with a second in the Sharp Cat Stakes at Hollywood Park Nov. 1 and a third in Oak Tree's Anoakia Stakes over the Santa Anita surface Oct. 19.
“Toro Bonito grinds it out,” Baffert said.
The dark bay filly has just one win in six starts, but has finished in the money in five of those races. She starts from the far outside post with regular rider David Flores in the irons.
Century Park took five starts to break her maiden, which she accomplished on the Hollywood turf Nov. 2 at 1 1/16 miles. The General Meeting filly, which has raced on the turf in four of her six starts, returned to finish ninth after stalking the pace in the one-mile Miesque (gr. IIIT) at Hollywood Nov. 28. The dark bay Florida-bred worked 1:01 3/5 in preparation for the Santa Ysabel.
“Century Park is doing good," Baffert said. "I always wanted to try her on synthetic.”
Jemmealey, a Florida-bred daughter of Malibu Moon , broke her maiden at Meadowlands by 3 1/2 lengths in her second start Nov. 3. She has worked well at Santa Anita since early December, including a :59 3/5 drill most recently.
While the Baffert group will be formidable, there are several others who will attract attention.
Will O Way comes off a 5 1/2-length win in the Corte Madera Stakes at Golden Gate Fields as the 2-5 choice for trainer Vladimir Cerin Dec. 13. The daughter of Broken Vow , third in the Del Mar Debutante (gr. I) last summer, has won two of five starts in her brief career.
Dave's Revenge, fourth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) when three lengths behind likely divisional champion Stardom Bound at odds of 64-1, looks to bounce back from a disappointing effort in the Hollywood Starlet. Sent off at odds of 5-2, the daughter of The Cliff's Edge stalked the pace into the lane and faded to finish a distant fifth.
Trainer Robert Hess Jr. turns to jockey Victor Espinoza, who was aboard Dave's Revenge in her maiden debut win at Del Mar. The dark bay fily leads the Santa Ysabel field in earnings with $142,570.
Claiborne Farm's Haka broke her maiden in front-running fashion at Hollywood Park by 5 1/2 lengths Dec. 18 in a race that was taken off the turf. Haka, a Dynaformer filly trained by Christophe Clement, has finished in the money in all three of her starts. She could dictate the pace in the Santa Ysabel.
Trainer Doug O'Neill entered Acting Lady, third in the restricted Blue Norther Stakes on the Santa Anita grass Dec. 28, and Crazy Tricia, a seven-length winner as the odds-on pick against $32,000 maiden claimers Dec. 18.
“They’re both doing well,” O’Neill said. “Obviously, Acting Lady is a bit more accomplished, but we know Crazy Tricia will get the ground, so we thought we’d give her a chance.”
Roger Licht's maiden Lady Lumberjack, trained by Julio Canani, completes the field.
$100,000 Santa Ysabel Stakes (gr. III, Race 8, 4:07 p.m.), 3-Year-Old Fillies, 1 1/16 Miles (All Weather)
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Acting Lady (KY), 116, Michael C. Baze
2. Haka (KY), 116, Garrett K. Gomez
3. Jemmealey (FL), 116, Jose Valdivia, Jr.
4. Dave's Revenge (KY), 116, Victor Espinoza
5. Century Park (FL), 116, Tyler Baze
6. Lady Lumberjack (KY), 114, Rafael Bejarano
7. Will O Way (KY), 116, Joel Rosario
8. Crazy Tricia (CA), 114, Martin Garcia
9. Toro Bonito (KY), 114, David R. Flores