All Eyes On Blind Luck in Lady's Secret
by Jack Shinar
Date Posted: 9/29/2011 2:28:41 PM
Last Updated: 10/1/2011 2:16:02 PM
Blind Luck returns in the Lady's Secret.
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After getting most of the summer off, late-running sensation Blind Luck will return to action in the $250,0000 Lady's Secret Stakes (gr. I) Oct. 1 at Santa Anita.
Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer has his eyes on a return to the Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic (gr. I) Nov. 4 with last year's champion 3-year-old filly. Blind Luck, second in last year's Ladies' Classic, has not been out since defeating division rival Havre de Grace by a nose in the Delaware Handicap (gr. II) July 16 for her third consecutive win.
The brilliant 4-year-old daughter of Pollard's Vision should be well-favored against a field of seven fillies and mares assembled for the 1 1/16-mile main track test. The race is a Breeders' Cup Challenge event, with the winner gaining an automatic berth in the Ladies' Classic. Blind Luck, like her main rivals Ask the Moon and Ultra Blend, has already secured a place in the starting gate for that Nov. 4 race at Churchill Downs. All three will carry co-top weight of 124 pounds.
The Lady's Secret is the sixth race on an 11-race program at Santa Anita, one of four grade I events on the card. It is set to go at 3:36 p.m. PDT as race 6.
Blind Luck began the year with back-to-back runner-up finishes at Santa Anita in the El Encino (gr. II) and La Canada (gr. II) stakes, part of a string of five straight second-place finishes that had some concerned about whether she had lost her renowned closing kick. But teamed with Garrett Gomez, the chestnut filly has looked more like her old self recently, winning the La Troienne (gr. II), Vanity Handicap (gr. I), and Delaware 'Cap in successive outings. She has now banked $3,279,520 while compiling a 12-7-2 lifetime mark in 21 races.
Blind Luck has traveled cross-country nine times in her career, and as Hollendorfer noted, “She’s handled every track that she’s ever run on." Yet she had some trouble with the Santa Anita dirt track earlier, with Hollendorfer concerned that the new surface's hardness may have contributed to some foot problems. The track has since undergone a major renovation prior to its reopening for the fall meet Sept. 30.
Pressed on a possible rematch with Havre de Grace in the Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I), Hollendorfer, who co-owns Blind Luck with Mark Dedomenico, John Carver, and Peter Abruzzo, says he's not looking beyond the Lady's Secret.
"Blind Luck has a big job to do Saturday so we need to get that done first before we start talking about any other races," he said. "And I've been successful taking things one race at a time and I intend to do the same way here."
Gomez, the Eclipse Award winning jockey of 2007 and 2008, seems a perfect fit with the smallish chestnut. “The first time Garrett rode her (second in the March 19 Azeri Stakes at Oaklawn Park), he didn’t know her very well,” Hollendorfer said, “but right after that, I think he’s gotten to where he knows her very well. He knows when to move her, and Garrett’s a guy who watches the pace very well. And he can finish on one, so that’s what we’re looking for.”
Blind Luck, who drew the rail in the short field, worked four furlongs over Cushion Track at Hollywood Park in :47 3/5 Sept. 27.
Ask the Moon, an unlikely success story for trainer Marty Wolfson and owner Farnsworth Stables, figures to be the biggest challenger to Blind Luck. Claimed for $75,000 in June at Belmont Park, the 6-year-old mare has taken down both the Ruffian Invitational Handicap (gr. I) and the Personal Ensign Stakes (gr. I) in impressive fashion at Saratoga in her most two recent starts.
“We’d been after a Malibu Moon mare to claim or buy for the last year,” said Wolfson. “We’d been waiting for an opportunity and it finally came along.”
Ask the Moon’s forte has always been speed, but since the claim the Maryland-bred has been able to carry it to victory in two prestigious stakes. Ask the Moon has 10 wins, five seconds and seven thirds in 32 starts for earnings of $713,640.
“She goes fast and she goes long and keeps going,” Wolfson said. “That’s pretty rare, but it’s a good thing about my mare.”
Ask the Moon left for California Sept. 25 from Florida, escaping the Sunshine State just in time to avoid heavy rains. “I’m glad we got out,” Wolfson said.
Martin Garcia will take the reins for the first time on Ask the Moon, who was ridden to his Saratoga victories by Javier Castellano.
California-bred 5-year-old Ultra Blend is coming off a 10-1 upset victory in Del Mar’s Clement L. Hirsch Stakes (gr.I) Aug. 6 when she defeated Zazu by a neck. An 11-time winner in 23 lifetime starts, Ultra Blend is also three-for-five at the distance for trainer Art Sherman and owner Nels Erickson.
Zazu, a 3-year-old daughter of Tapit owned by Jerry and Ann Moss, won the Hollywood Oaks (gr. II) and the Las Virgenes (gr. I) at Santa Anita earlier this year. She returns for trainer John Sadler after nearly running down Ultra Blend with a big closing effort in the Hirsch.
Champagne d'Oro won the Acorn (gr. I) and Test (gr. I) stakes in New York last year but is winless so far in 2011 from four starts for trainer Eric Guillot.
Three-year-old fillies Great Hot and Love Theway Youare, first and fifth, respectively, in Del Mar's Torrey Pines Stakes Sept. 4, are stepping way up.
$250,000 Lady's Secret Stakes (gr. I, Race 6, 3:36 p.m.), Fillies & Mares 3 & Up, 1 1/16 Miles
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Blind Luck (KY), G K Gomez, 124, J Hollendorfer
2. Champagne d'Oro (KY), J Talamo, 119, E J Guillot
3. Ask the Moon (MD), M Garcia, 124, M D Wolfson
4. Love Theway Youare (KY), C Santiago Reyes, 116, M K Cho
5. Great Hot (BRZ), C Sutherland, 116, A C Avila
6. Ultra Blend (CA), D R Flores, 124, A Sherman
7. Zazu (KY), J Rosario, 118, J W Sadler
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