Eclair de Lune, looking to regain the form that made her a grade I winner last summer, finds a more suitable distance in the $150,000 Santa Ana Stakes (gr. IIT) at nine furlongs on the Santa Anita lawn March 19.
The 5-year-old German-bred mare failed to get into gear in her most recent start, the one-mile Megahertz Stakes Jan. 23, and wound up fourth as the 11-10 favorite. She finished four lengths behind the victorious It Tiz, who is also part of the Santa Ana field.
Eight evenly-matched older fillies and mares are entered in the Santa Ana, which is race 7 on the program with a 3:36 p.m. PDT probable post.
Hall of Fame trainer Ron McAnally expects dramatic improvement from Éclair de Lune, a daughter of Marchand de Sable owned by Richard Duchossois. She drew post 7.
“The added distance will be better for her,” McAnally said. “She’ll be fit enough for it. First time back, the mile race was a little short for her and the kid had too much hold of her. She’s run against top fillies since she’s come here.”
Éclair de Lune will have a new rider in Chantal Sutherland. The winning jockey in the Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I) earlier this month replaces Rafael Bejarano, who is aboard Malibu Pier.
At Arlington Park last summer, Éclair de Lune won both the Modesty Handicap (gr. IIIT) and the 1 3/16-mile Beverly D (gr. IT). She was given nearly a three-month breather after pressing the pace in the Emirates Airline Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf (gr. IT) and tiring late to finish sixth in the 11-furlong event.
In her return in the Megahertz, she was off a bit slowly, trailing by nine lengths at the first call, and never challenged while racing wide into the lane.
Another mare that should appreciate some added distance is Michael Tabor's Turning Top, sixth-place finisher in the one mile Buena Vista Handicap (gr. IIT) on grass in her only start of the year Feb. 21. She made up quite a bit of ground in the stretch run while closing from 10th and lost by three lengths.
The 5-year-old Irish-bred daughter of Pivotal won four consecutive races last year for trainer Simon Callaghan, culminating in a one-length triumph in the 1 1/4-mile Beverly Hills Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Hollywood Park June 26. She has lost four in a row since then against grade I and grade II company.
Spendthrift Farm's Malibu Pier arrived a little late in the Buena Vista as well, finishing a closing third between rivals as the lukewarm favorite. The 4-year-old Malibu Moon filly is looking for her first win in four starts at the meet for trainer Carla Gaines. She started with a runner-up effort in the La Brea Stakes (gr. I) to begin the meet and also turned in a fifth-place showing in the El Encino Stakes (gr. II), both on dirt.
Since upsetting Éclair de Lune in the Megahertz, Allen and Susan Branch's It Tiz has had one start, finishing eighth in the Buena Vista after hopping in the air and bobbling at the start. Mark Glatt trains the daughter of Tiznow .
Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer entered a pair in Washington Bridge, the 123-pound high weight in the Santa Ana, and Lilly Fa Pootz.
Washington Bridge, a 4-year-old daughter of Yankee Gentleman , won the Bayakoa Handicap (gr. II) on Hollywood Park's Cushion Track in December. She has raced once since, finishing fourth in the Santa Maria Stakes (gr. II) Feb. 12. She has not finished in the money in her two previous tries on turf.
Six-year-old Lilly Fa Pootz, a four-time winner in 2010 who has not found the winner's circle in three starts so far this year, is coming off a fifth in the Buena Vista.
$150,000 Santa Ana Stakes (gr. II, Race 7, 3:36 p.m.), Fillies & Mares 4 & Up, 1 1/8 Miles (Turf)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Malibu Pier (KY), R Bejarano, 118, C Gaines
2. Church Camp (KY), B Blanc, 118, B J Koriner
3. Turning Top (IRE), J Rosario, 118, S Callaghan
4. Blue Maiden (GB), J Talamo, 118, R E Mandella
5. Washington Bridge (KY), M E Smith, 123, J Hollendorfer
6. It Tiz (KY), D R Flores, 118, M Glatt
7. Eclair de Lune (GER), C Sutherland, 120, R L McAnally
8. Lilly Fa Pootz (KY), C S Nakatani, 118, J Hollendorfer