Three important stakes that were canceled because of weather-related problems at Santa Anita Feb. 6 will return as promised a week later with the fields mostly intact.
Of the three rescheduled stakes Feb. 13 -- The $250,000 Las Virgenes (gr. I) for 3-year-old fillies, the $150,000 Robert B. Lewis (gr. II) for 3-year-olds, and the $200,000 Strub for 4-year-olds -- only the Lewis, which saw its original field of seven reduced to five, was substantially impacted. Those three races join the $250,000 Santa Maria Handicap (gr. II), featuring the return to action of Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic (gr. I) winner Life Is Sweet, to create a quality-packed card.
The races were part of a Feb. 6 program that was postponed when the main track's Pro-Ride racing surface failed to drain properly after heavy rain hit Southern California.
First post for the Feb. 13 program is at 12:30 p.m. (PST). The series of graded stakes races starts in the fourth with the Las Virgenes. The Lewis will be contested as the sixth race, with the Santa Maria going as the eighth and the Strub as the ninth.
The Lewis, at 1 1/16 miles over the Pro-Ride, kept its "big three" of American Lion , Tiz Chrome, and Dave in Dixie together in the small lineup. Declared out are Macias and Domonation.
Macias, from the Bob Baffert barn, was entered in the Baffle Stakes at about 6 1/2 furlongs on the hillside turf course, which is the third race on the program. The John Sadler-trained Domonation, third-place finisher in the San Rafael Stakes (gr. III) last month, is at Oaklawn Park for the $250,000 Southwest Stakes (gr. III) Feb. 15.
The Las Virgenes kept its field of six together for the one-mile Pro-Ride event, with heavy favorite Blind Luck drawing the rail in her bid for a third grade I victory.
The Strub, at 1 1/8 miles on the synthetic oval, maintained a 10-horse field with Misremembered the likely favorite. The race lost grade I winner Square Eddie , who was retired to stud with a suspensory injury last week, and Diferentkindagreat, who was to make his stakes debut for trainer Dan Hendricks when the race was originally drawn. But the Strub added two other nominees, Jeranimo and Acclamation, who ran fourth and fifth, respectively, in the Sunshine Millions Classic Jan. 30.
Tiz Chrome, also from the Baffert stable, and American Lion remain the marquee horses in the Lewis. Both are listed at 20-1 on the opening line of the 2010 Kentucky Derby Future Wager, as is Dave in Dixie. Both of the lightly-raced favorites will be making their two-turn debuts in the Lewis.
WinStar Farm's homebred American Lion has not been out since winning the seven-furlong Hollywood Prevue (gr. III) by a half-length at Hollywood Park Nov. 21 for trainer Eoin Harty. Julien Leparoux keeps the mount on the son of Tiznow --Storm Tide (by Storm Cat), who broke his maiden at Keeneland by nearly seven lengths prior to the Prevue.
While delivering as the 7-10 favorite in the Prevue, American Lion appeared to be unfocused through the stretch.
“He’s been a standout from the very beginning because he’s very imposing physically,” said WinStar co-owner Bill Casner. “He’s been very immature, but he’s just so talented, he’s getting it done despite the immaturity.”
Tiz Chrome, also a son of Tiznow out of the Woodman mare Woodland Shadow, is two-for-two so far for owners Lanni Family Trust and Mercedes Stable. The good-looking bay colt won the Stuka Stakes at Hollywood Park in his first start for Baffert Dec. 19.
Dave in Dixie, conditioned by Sadler, has not been out since a sixth-place finish in Oak Tree's 1 1/16-mile Norfolk Stakes (gr. I) in just his second race Oct. 4. He was beaten by less than three lengths in a better-than-looked effort. Ike and Dawn Thrash's son of Dixie Union--Risk (by Wavering Monarch), rolled to a 3 1/4-length win in his maiden debut at Del Mar Aug. 29.
In the redrawn Lewis, Dave in Dixie, Tiz Chrome, and American Lion occupy the three inside starting stalls.
To their outside the undefeated Caracortado, coming off a stakes win at the Lewis distance over California-breds Dec. 26, has reeled off four victories in a row for trainer and breeder Michael Machowsky. Tango Tango completes the field.
Blind Luck, who is nominated to the Santa Anita Derby (gr. I), is expected to be an overwhelming favorite against five rivals in the Las Virgenes.
An $11,000 yearling purchase, Blind Luck was sold privately to trainer Jerry Hollendorfer and partners following a 13 1/4-length maiden victory on Jan. 21 of last year at Calder Race Course. She proceeded to earn $709,050 in 2009 with two grade I triumphs, a second in another, and a troubled third when beaten by less than one length in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I).
“Blind Luck will have to regress quite a bit for anyone to have a chance (of beating her),” said Eric Kruljac, who trains rival La Nez.
Blind Luck rebounded from her troubled setback as the 7-2 favorite in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies to put on a dazzling display in the Hollywood Starlet (gr. I) at 1 1/16 miles on Dec. 20.
With Rafael Bejarano aboard for the first time, Blind Luck demolished a strong field by seven lengths while being timed in 1:41.96 over Hollywood Park’s Cushion Track.
Blind Luck’s other grade I win came in Oak Tree’s Oak Leaf Stakes on Oct. 4. She was victorious by 2 1/2 lengths over Always a Princess while clocked for 1 1/16 miles over Santa Anita’s main track in 1:43.19. It was her two-turn debut.
Blind Luck worked five furlongs Feb. 9 on Pro-Ride in :59.20. Dan Ward, assistant to Jerry Hollendorfer, called the drill “perfect.” A daughter of Pollard's Vision , Blind Luck will carry high weight of 122 pounds in the Las Virgenes with Bejarano back in the saddle.
The fast-developing Crisp, trained by Sadler, figures to be the second choice. The daughter of El Corredor is coming off a rallying one-length triumph in the 1 1/16-mile Santa Ysabel (gr. III) in her stakes debut Jan. 10.
Misremembered, winner of Hollywood Park’s Swaps Stakes (gr. II) last July and runner-up to speedster M One Rifle when favored in Santa Anita’s Malibu Stakes (gr. I) Dec. 26, is the probable choice in the Strub.
Trained by Baffert for his wife, Jill, and George Jacobs, Misremembered has been first or second in seven of his nine starts with the only exceptions being his maiden debut and a challenge against older horses in Del Mar’s Pacific Classic (gr. I) when a 3-year-old last year.
The son of Candy Ride , bred by Bob Baffert, will take earnings of $698,589 into the Strub from a 4-3-0 record in his nine races. Victor Espinoza rides the chestnut ridgling who will share high weight of 121 pounds with Rendezvous, the only other graded stakes winner in the lineup.
The latter is trained by co-owner Hollendorfer and has won four of 16 starts for earnings of $358,505. Rendezvous, who will be ridden by Bejarano, is winless in three starts since scoring a 22-1 upset in the Del Mar Derby (gr. IIT) on grass last Sept. 6.
Smart Bid , weighted at 119 pounds with Mike Smith to ride, edged Rendezvous for the place behind the now-retired Papa Clem in the San Fernando Stakes (gr. II) Jan. 16, a big improvement after fading to seventh in the Malibu. Trained by H. Graham Motion for Augustin Stable, Smart Bid shows earnings of $198,918 from a 3-2-2 record in nine starts.
$250,000 Las Virgenes Stakes (gr. I, Race 4, 2:03 p.m.), 3-Year-Old Fillies, 1 Mile (Synthetic)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Blind Luck (KY), R Bejarano, 122, J Hollendorfer
2. Evening Jewel (CA), V Espinoza, 118, J M Cassidy
3. Crisp (KY), J Rosario, 118, J W Sadler
4. Switch (KY), T Baze, 116, J W Sadler
5. La Nez (CA), M E Smith, 118, J E Kruljac
6. Summer Games (KY), M C Baze, 116, C F Dominguez
$150,000 Robert B. Lewis Stakes (gr. II, Race 6, 3:05 p.m.), 3-Year-Olds, 1 1/16 Miles (Synthetic)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Dave in Dixie (KY), J Rosario, 115, J W Sadler
2. Tiz Chrome (KY), G K Gomez, 117, B Baffert
3. American Lion (KY), J R Leparoux, 117, E G Harty
4. Caracortado (CA), P Atkinson, 117, M Machowsky
5. Tango Tango (KY), R Bejarano, 115, J Hollendorfer
$200,000 Strub Stakes (gr. II, Race 9, 4:38 p.m.), 4-Year-Olds, 1 1/8 Miles (Synthetic)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Misremembered (KY), V Espinoza, 121, B Baffert
2. Massone (KY), J Rosario, 117, R L McAnally
3. Viscount (KY), G K Gomez, 117, B Baffert
4. Gallant Son (KY), A O Solis, 117, F Lucarelli
5. Jeranimo (FL), M Garcia, 117, M Pender
6. Heavenly Wind (WA), T Baze, 117, R B Hess, Jr.
7. Acclamation (CA), D R Flores, 117, D Warren
8. Rendezvous (KY), R Bejarano, 121, J Hollendorfer
9. Eagle Poise (KY), J R Leparoux, 117, W I Mott
10. Smart Bid (PA), M E Smith, 119, H G Motion