California-bred millionaire Evening Jewel, who proved in 2010 that she can handle any surface or distance with authority, tries Santa Anita’s unique downhill turf course for the first time when she takes on seven ambitious fillies and mares in the $100,000 Monrovia Stakes (gr. IIIT) Jan. 2.
The daughter of Northern Afleet , whom trainer James Cassidy describes as “an overachiever,” figures to be a solid favorite upon returning from a layoff that followed a third-place finish behind Dubai Majesty and Switch in the seven-furlong Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (gr. I) on dirt at Churchill Downs Nov. 5.
The Monrovia, at about 6 1/2 furlongs, is the second race on the Santa Anita card with a 1 p.m. start time.
There is little that Tom and Marilyn Braly’s bay filly has not achieved during her 14-race career. She has been no worse than third in 13 starts following her debut. She has won grade I competitions on grass (Del Mar Oaks) and synthetics (Ashland at Keeneland). She lost by a nose to Blind Luck on dirt in the grade I Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs in 2010. And she has been victorious at distances ranging from 6 ½ furlongs to 1 1/8 miles.
Regular rider Victor Espinoza will be aboard Evening Jewel, who comes into the Monrovia with earnings of $1,015,943 from a career record of 6-5-2 in her 14 trips to the post. Evening Jewel blew out three furlongs in :35 2/5 on Santa Anita's main track Dec. 30.
Evening Jewel’s prime danger appears to be another Cal-bred, accomplished sprinter Unzip Me, a winner of seven of her last nine starts while sprinting on turf.
Trained by Marty Jones for co-breeder Harris Farms and partners, Unzip Me will share high weight of 123 pounds with Evening Jewel. Rafael Bejarano has the mount on the 5-year-old City Zip mare whose career record is 9-2-3 from 16 starts for earnings of $583,513.
Unzip Me has won three of four starts over the downhill grass layout including the Las Cienegas Handicap (gr. IIIT) last April. She has been idle since finishing a willing third in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (gr. IIT) won by Chamberlain Bridge over five furlongs at Churchill Downs on Nov. 5.
$100,000 Monrovia Stakes (gr. IIIT, Race 2 1 p.m.), Fillies and Mares 4 & up, About 6 1/2 Furlongs (Turf)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Broken Dreams (FL), G K Gomez, 118, T F Proctor
2. Evening Jewel (CA), V Espinoza, 123, J M Cassidy
3. La Nez (CA), J Talamo, 118, J E Kruljac
4. Unzip Me (CA), R Bejarano, 123, M F Jones
5. Lilly Fa Pootz (KY), J Rosario, 118, J Hollendorfer
6. Reba Is Tops (WA), P A Valenzuela, 118, M Glatt
7. Candace Gold (KY), M A Pedroza, 118, G Papaprodromou
8. Gilded Gem (KY), C S Nakatani, 118, B Baffert