Trainer John Sadler sends out a pair of top 3-year-old filly candidates, including multiple stakes winner Evita Argentina, in the $150,000 Santa Ynez (gr. II) at Santa Anita Jan. 17.
The Santa Ynez is one of three graded stakes on the Santa Anita program.
The only graded stakes winner in the field, Evita Argentina will carry top weight of 123 pounds and will surrender from seven to nine pounds to her nine rivals in the seven-furlong Santa Ynez. The Candy Ride filly will be joined in the lineup by stablemate Alpha Kitten, a homebred owned by Jerry and Ann Moss who was well backed in the Dec. 13 Hollywood Starlet (gr. I) and finished fourth.
Garrett Gomez will be aboard Evita Argentina for the first time as the Halo Farms and Three Sisters Thoroughbred filly attempts to build on her last-to-first win by 1 1/2 lengths in Hollywood Park's seven-furlong Moccasin Stakes Nov. 16. They'll break from post 8.
Evita Argentina, who leads the Santa Ynez field in earnings with $204,900 from three wins in five starts, ran ninth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) Oct. 24 in her only prior try over Santa Anita's Pro-Ride surface. She won the Sorrento (gr. III) over Del Mar's Polytrack in August.
Alpha Kitten shortens up to one turn after weakening in the 1 1/16-mile Starlet, which was just her third start. The daughter of Tale of the Cat won her debut over maidens at Del Mar last summer and returned seven weeks later to finish a rallying second in the Anoakia Stakes over the Santa Anita surface Oct. 19.
Another leading contender is Michael House's Empressive Lady, who has not been out for trainer Jeff Mullins since a difficult try in the Oak Leaf Stakes (gr. I) Sept. 27 when she faded to 11th after pulling jockey Tyler Baze most of the way. The Empire Maker lass broke her maiden at Del Mar in her second start by 5 1/2 lengths, then ran fifth as the choice in the Del Mar Debutante (gr. I) Sept. 1. Michael Baze will take the reins this time.
Mullins also entered Candilejas, who rebounded from off-the-board efforts at long odds in the Del Mar Debutante and Oak Leaf to win a first-level allowance race at Hollywood Park by 4 1/2 lengths Dec. 10.
Trainer Mark Casse takes a shot with Woodbine invader Deeveetee, an Ontario-bred filly by Doneraile Court who scored in her first Santa Anita start by three-quarters of a length in a first-level allowance heat at six furlongs Dec. 31.
Pinkarella debuted with a front-running 5 1/4-length triumph over maidens at Hollywood Dec. 21 for trainer Doug O'Neill.
$150,000 Santa Ynez Stakes (gr. II, Race 6, 3:05 p.m.), 3-Year-Old Fillies, 7 Furlongs (All Weather)
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Candilejas (KY), 114, Martin Garcia
2. Nan (KY), 114, Corey Nakatani
3. Pinkarella (KY), 114, Joel Rosario
4. Spanish Ice (CA), 114, David Flores
5. Empressive Lady (KY), 114, Michael Baze
6. Turtle Creek Babe (KY), 114, Victor Espinoza
7. Deeveetee (ON), 116, Patrick Husbands
8. Evita Argentina (KY), 123, Garrett Gomez
9. Alpha Kitten (KY), 114, Tyler Baze
10. Real Fancy Runner (KY), 114, Joseph Talamo