Aiming for her fourth grade I victory, Turbulent Descent will start as the heavy favorite against eight opponents in the $300,000 La Brea Stakes at Santa Anita Dec. 31.
Turbulent Descent, making her first appearance since a fifth-place finish in the Sentient Jet Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (gr. I) nearly two months ago, drew post 2 for the seven-furlong La Brea. The final graded race of 2011 is for 3-year-old fillies. Post time for the La Brea is 4:07 p.m. PST.
Her loss in the Breeders' Cup as the 7-5 choice probably cost the Florida-bred daughter of Congrats an Eclipse Award as the nation's outstanding female sprinter. But Mike Puype, who trains Turbulent Descent for the Blinkers On Racing Stable syndicate, vows that the bay filly will rebound from that effort.
“She’ll redeem herself on the 31st,” Puype told Daily Racing Form. “I have no doubt about it.”
Turbulent Descent, who likes to stalk and pounce, will face plenty of speed to match her style in the La Brea. She was roughed up at the start at Churchill Downs Nov. 4 but managed to take a narrow lead in the stretch while racing wide. But she gave way in the final furlong and finished 4 1/4 lengths behind the victorious longshot Musical Romance.
“The trip was murderous in the Breeders’ Cup,” said Puype. “She’ll have good conditions here. She’s the fastest 3-year-old filly out here.”
During the course of the 2011 season, Turbulent Descent has won the Santa Anita Oaks (gr. I) and the Beaumont (gr. II) and Test (gr. I) stakes, and finished second in the Las Virgenes (gr. I) and Acorn (gr. I) stakes. Coming after a three-for-three 2-year-old campaign that included a triumph in the Hollywood Starlet (gr. I), she has compiled a career mark of 6-2-0 in nine starts with earnings of $858,350.
With regular pilot David Flores at the controls, Turbulent Descent will spot her rivals five pounds apiece while carrying 123.
Coudelaria Jessica's Brazilian-bred Great Hot also ran in the BC Filly & Mare Sprint last time out, finishing 11th after much traffic trouble. She was later found to have bled as well, according to trainer A.C. Avila, who plans to use the La Brea as a tune-up for some longer races this spring.
Great Hot, a daughter of Orientate , won the Raven Run Stakes (gr. II) over Keeneland's Polytrack prior to the Breeders' Cup.
Other main contenders in the La Brea are May Day Rose, from the Bob Baffert barn, the John Sadler-conditioned Home Sweet Aspen, and grade II winner California Nectar.
Kaleem Shah's speedy May Day Rose also ran during the Breeders' Cup program, opening a big edge in the one-mile Chilukki Stakes (gr. II) at Churchill Nov. 5 before being tagged late. She suffered a similar fate in the Remington Park Oaks prior to the Chilukki, but won both the Santa Ysabel (gr. III) and Railbird (gr. III) stakes earlier in the year.
Jenny Craig’s Home Sweet Aspen also likes to run on the front end. Never worse than second in six starts for Sadler, she unsuccessfully tried grass in Hollywood Park’s Cool Air Stakes Dec. 7. She has three wins and three seconds in seven starts.
“I expect her to run back to form,” Sadler said. Joel Rosario rides the homebred.
California Nectar, another speedster trained by Doug O’Neill for Suarez Racing, is a two-time stakes winner at seven furlongs over the Santa Anita main track. She won the Santa Ynez Stakes (gr. II) in wire-to-wire fashion last January following a similar win in the California Breeders’ Championship. Hector Berrios rides the winner of $324,000 from a 5-4-1 record in 14 career starts.
Sarah's Secret, winner of the Honeymoon Handicap (gr. IIT) at Hollywood Park in June, switches from turf to dirt for the first time in her career for trainer Kathy Walsh.
California-bred stakes winner Sugarinthemorning, a five-time winner from 11 starts, will attempt to give Hall of Fame trainer Ron McAnally his fourth victory in the La Brea.
Trainer Ron Ellis sends out a pair, Teddy's Promise and Include Me Out, who finished first and second, respectively, in a six-furlong allowance test at Hollywood Park Nov. 25.
A supporting feature, the $75,000 Eddie Logan Stakes at one mile on turf, attracted a cast of nine 2-year-olds headed by trainer Steve Asmussen’s Daddy Nose Best. Asmussen won last year’s Logan with Silver Medallion.
$300,000 La Brea Stakes (gr. I, Race 8, 4:07 p.m.), 3YO Fillies, 7 Furlongs
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Home Sweet Aspen (KY), J Rosario, 118, J W Sadler
2. Turbulent Descent (FL), D R Flores, 123, M Puype
3. May Day Rose (FL), M Garcia, 118, B Baffert
4. Include Me Out (KY), J Talamo, 118, R W Ellis
5. Sarah's Secret (KY), R Bejarano, 118, K Walsh
6. Sugarinthemorning (CA), G K Gomez, 118, R L McAnally
7. Great Hot (BRZ), C Sutherland, 118, A C Avila
8. California Nectar (CA), H I Berrios, 118, D F O'Neill
9. Teddy's Promise (CA), V Espinoza, 118, R W Ellis