The first four finishers in last month's Honest Lady Stakes will all have the unenviable task of trying to catch the speedy filly High Resolve in the $100,000 Las Flores Handicap (gr. III) at Santa Anita April 5.
That's something that doesn't happen often. The Greg Gilchrist-trained gray began her career with five consecutive front-running victories and has won seven of 10 starts overall with a pair of seconds and one show. Racing for the estate of Harry J. Aleo, the 4-year-old Florida-bred daughter of Put It Back is coming off a handy gate-to-wire victory by 2 1/4 lengths in the $300,000 Sunshine Millions Filly & Mare Sprint Jan. 24. She has earned $426,270 in her career.
Seven fillies and mares are entered in the 6 1/2-furlong Las Flores. High Resolve, Honest Lady winner Sweet August Moon, Foxy Danseur and Coco Belle all carry the high weight assignment of 118 pounds.
High Resolve will be bidding for her first graded stakes win and attempting to win her initial race over a synthetic track after two runner-up finishes on Santa Anita's Pro-Ride racing surface. Russell Baze rides High Resolve, who will break from the rail and figures to dictate the pace once more.
Foxy Danseur ran down the Northern California-based filly for a one-length win in the Cascapedia Stakes during last fall's Oak Tree meeting at Santa Anita when High Resolve failed to clear her rivals for the only time in her career. There are a couple in the Las Flores lineup who could make High Resolve work for the lead once again, making it possible that the 4-year-old daughter of Mr. Greeley could do it again.
Trained by Christopher Paasch for owner Charles Cono, Foxy Danseur is coming off a runner-up finish as the favorite in the six-furlong Honest Lady March 7. Foxy Danseur, who will be ridden once again by Joel Rosario, made a wide bid to get the lead in the Honest Lady but was tagged in the final furlong by Sweet August Moon, who rallied for a 1 1/2-length win. Foxy Danseur, who is also looking for her first graded win, is usually right there, having finished first or second in nine of 16 starts while earning $303,714.
Sweet August Moon has put back-to-back victories together for trainer Brian Koriner and owner Legacy Ranch with her 9-1 upset in the Honest Lady, which was her first stakes win. The Pennsylvania-bred 4-year-old Malibu Moon miss has won four of seven starts since breaking her maiden at Santa Anita in December 2007. She'll be reunited with Aaron Gryder in the Las Flores.
Also coming out of the Honest Lady is third-place finisher Coco Belle, who chased Foxy Danseur the last three times they met. To be ridden by regular jockey Mike Smith, the multiple stakes winner of $364,913 did not break with her customary sharpness last time but figures to be one who can put some early pressure on High Resolve. Trained by John Sadler, the 5-year-old Storm Boot homebred is owned by Jerry and Ann Moss.
Also blessed with early speed is Starry Pursuit, who should enjoy a more comfortable trip from the outside post than she did when trapped inside in the Honest Lady. She faded to finish eighth of nine that day in her first start in eight months. Trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, the 4-year-old Van Nistelrooy filly had a three-race winning streak on turf prior to that effort, two of those wins coming in stakes races at Hollywood Park last year.
The Irish-bred Petite Cherie, fourth in the Honest Lady, looks to halt a nine-race losing streak for trainer Ben Cecil.
Grade III winner Ashley's Kitty has been on the sidelines since finishing ninth in the A Gleam Handicap (gr. II) at Hollywood Park June 28.
$100,000 Las Flores Handicap (gr. III, Race 8, 4:07 p.m.), Fillies & Mares 4 & Up, 6 1/2 Furlongs (All Weather)
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. High Resolve (FL), 118, Russell A. Baze
2. Sweet August Moon (PA), 118, Aaron T. Gryder
3. Petite Cherie (IRE), 114, Rafael Bejarano
4. Ashley's Kitty (KY), 115, Michael C. Baze
5. Foxy Danseur (KY), 118, Joel Rosario
6. Coco Belle (KY), 118, Mike E. Smith
7. Starry Pursuit (KY), 115, Joseph Talamo