Top female turf sprinter Unzip Me will attempt to become the third horse at Santa Anita since 1990 to carry 127 pounds to victory when she goes to the post as the heavy favorite in the $100,000 Las Cienegas Handicap (gr. IIIT) April 9.
The last two horses to win a stakes race at Santa Anita while carrying as much as 127 pounds were 2010 Horse of the Year Zenyatta in last year’s Santa Margarita Invitational (gr. I) and two-time champion Bayakoa in the same event for fillies and mares 20 years before.
Unzip Me spots each of her seven rivals from eight to 12 pounds in the about 6 1/2-furlong test on the hillside turf course.
The defending champion in the Las Cienegas, Unzip Me is working on a streak of five straight victories on the hillside for trainer Marty Jones. The 5-year-old City Zip mare, owned by breeders Harris Farms and Donald Valpredo in a partnership, carried 125 pounds in her most recent win, the Clockers’ Corner Handicap March 5.
The last time Unzip Me finished out of the money was in October 2009. She ran third against males in last fall's Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. IIT). The chestnut, who drew post 3 with regular rider Rafael Bejarano aboard for the Las Cienegas, is 11-2-3 in 18 lifetime races races for earnings of $704,803.
The Las Cienegas kicks off a great program of stakes action on Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) day. It is the third race with a 1:03 p.m.( PDT) probable start.
Tanda won the Santa Paula (gr. III) and Railbird Stakes (gr. III) stakes last spring before going to the sidelines following a third-place finish in the Acorn Stakes (gr. I) at Belmont Park in June. The 4-year-old daughter of Sweetsouthernsaint returns to action for trainer Dan Hendricks and owner Tommy Hutton's Dream Stable with Joel Rosario taking the mount. Tanda won four of six starts last year, including a pair of victories on the hillside course, and banked $216,990.
La Nez and Saanneen ran one-two in the restricted Irish O'Brien Stakes over the course March 19. La Nez prevailed with a late burst by three-quarters of a length, producing a slight upset over Saanneen for trainer Eric Kruljac.
It Tiz captured the one-mile Megahertz Stakes in game fashion on the Santa Anita lawn Jan. 23 but has faltered in two starts since for trainer Mark Glatt. She finished eighth in the Buena Vista Handicap (gr. IIT) Feb. 21 and sixth in the Santa Ana Stakes (gr. IIT) March 19.
Separate Forest tries stakes competition for the first time for trainer Doug O'Neill. The 4-year-old Forestry filly has two of her three starts on the hillside since being claimed by O'Neill for $25,000 in January.
$100,000 Las Cienegas Handicap (gr. IIIT, Race 3, 1:03 p.m.), Fillies & Mares 4 & Up, About 6 1/2 Furlongs (Turf)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Victoryasecret (KY), J Talamo, 117, C J Jenda
2. Tanda (FL), J Rosario, 119, D L Hendricks
3. Unzip Me (CA), R Bejarano, 127, M F Jones
4. It Tiz (KY), D R Flores, 117, M Glatt
5. Saanneen (KY), G K Gomez, 117, L Powell
6. U R All That I Am (CA), M Garcia, 117, J Hollendorfer
7. La Nez (CA), M A Pedroza, 117, J E Kruljac
8. Separate Forest (KY), P A Valenzuela, 115, D F O'Neill