Unbeaten Carlsbad, an Arizona-bred filly who won the first four starts of her career by an astounding combined margin of more than 50 lengths, should get her first real test in the $100,000 Santa Paula Stakes (gr. III) at Santa Anita March 29.
Switched to the Southern California barn of Jeff Mullins by owner and breeder Dennis Weir in the wake of her 13 1/4-length romp in the Arizona Oaks at Turf Paradise Feb. 21, the speedy daughter of Rocky Bar takes on a small but quality group of five other 3-year-old fillies in the 6 1/2-furlong Santa Paula. Beltene, who began her career with three wins, leads the contenders.
Trained in Arizona by Kevin Lewis, Carlsbad is yet to be headed since breaking her maiden at first asking by 4 1/4 lengths at Turf Paradise Oct. 15. The dark bay followed that maiden score with a 14 1/4-length tally over state breds in the Arizona Breeders' Futurity six weeks later, then capped her juvenile campaign with a 19-length demolishing of four rivals in the Arizona Juvenile Filly Stakes at odds of 1-20.
In Carlsbad's sophomore debut, rider Daniel Vergara never asked her as she skipped away to an easy victory in the one-mile Arizona Oaks, in which she beat four opponents while ridden out as the 3-5 favorite. In her Southern California bow, Carlsbad will be shortening up with Tyler Baze aboard while breaking from post position four. Carlsbad, who is out of the Pine Bluff mare Kits Peak, has earned $94,126 for her connections.
Beltene, upset winner of the six-furlong Sunshine Millions Oaks Jan. 24, looks to resume her winning ways after stretching out in the 1 1/16-mile Santa Anita Oaks (gr. I) and finishing sixth, 2 1/4 lengths behind the champion Stardom Bound. The Unusual Heat filly raced wide in the March 7 Oaks for jockey Joel Rosario, who has ridden her in all four of her starts and has the mount once again in the Santa Paula.
“She wasn’t beaten that far and had some trouble in the race, too,” trainer Jack Carava said of Beltene, who is owned by La Canada Stables. “She probably wasn’t fully prepared to run long. She’ll shorten back up Sunday. I know it’s a tough race, but she should run well.”
Ultra Blend, trained by Art Sherman for Nels Erickson, had a four-race winning streak ended when she finished third in the King Glorious as the 6-5 favorite against males at Golden Gate Fields Feb. 28. The Northern California-based daughter of Richly Blended won the Tiburon by three lengths prior to that effort.
Mullins also entered Empressive Lady in the Santa Paula. After breaking her maiden by 5 1/2 lengths at Del Mar last summer, Michael House's daughter of Empire Maker fared poorly in three successive graded stakes against top-caliber company. She rebounded Feb. 11 with a front-running victory over an optional claiming allowance field at Santa Anita.
Also in the field is Heartless Vixen, a Lion Heart filly trained by Ron Ellis who is unbeaten in two starts. Owned by Gary Broad, Hearless Vixen is coming off a 4 1/4-length allowance win at seven furlongs March 5.
Pinkarella was a 5 1/4-length debut maiden winner who tired to eighth in the one-mile Las Virgenes Stakes (gr. I) Feb. 7 in her only subsequent start for trainer Doug O'Neill.
$100,000 Santa Paula Stakes (gr. III, Race 8, 4:07 p.m.), 3-Year-Old Fillies, 6 1/2 Furlongs (All Weather)
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Beltene (CA), 118, Joel Rosario
2. Empressive Lady (KY), 116, Alex O. Solis
3. Pinkarella (KY), 114, Martin Garcia
4. Carlsbad (AZ), 116, Tyler Baze
5. Ultra Blend (CA), 116, Jose Valdivia, Jr.
6. Heartless Vixen (KY), 116, Rafael Bejarano