Unzip Me will be heavily favored on Santa Anita’s hillside turf course Jan. 2 when seeking a repeat victory in the $100,000 Monrovia Stakes (gr. IIIT) for older fillies and mares.
Trained by Marty Jones, the California-bred daughter of City Zip has won six of nine starts at 6 1/2 furlongs over the downhill turf. Unzip Me won last year’s Monrovia by 1 1/4 lengths as the 7-10 favorite.
Rafael Bejarano will be back aboard on Monday when she faces 10 rivals in an attempt to become only the second back-to-back winner in Monrovia history. The Gordon C. Campbell-conditioned Winter Solstice accomplished the feat in 1976-77.
Unzip Me, who is out of the Arazi mare Escape With Me, will carry 120 pounds and break from post 10 while making her first start as a 6-year-old.
The Monrovia will be contested as the eighth race on the extended holiday weekend’s nine-race program with first post at 12:30 p.m. PST.
Owned by Harris Farms, Donald Valpredo, Per Antonsen, and partners, the homebred Unzip Me has earned $893,228 from an overall record of 13-4-3 in 23 starts.
Separate Forest, a Forestry mare conditioned by Doug O’Neill, upset Unzip Me by a neck in last April’s Las Cienegas Handicap (gr. IIIT) down the hill, but was unable to replicate that result in two subsequent meetings. Hector Berrios has the mount as Separate Forest returns from a three-month freshening with a 4-2-3 record in 15 starts. She has earned $197,525 for Suarez Racing and Westside Rentals.
French-bred Givine, trained by Julio Canani for Marsha Naify, finished a length behind victorious Unzip Me and a half-length behind Separate Forest when third in Del Mar’s Daisycutter Handicap at five furlongs on turf Aug. 12. Joel Rosario rides the gray mare, who seldom is far away at the wire. Givine has posted a 6-3-3 record in 15 career starts for earnings of $208,701.
The field’s high weight at 123 pounds is the British-bred filly Up In Time, who will be handled by Martin Garcia for trainer Simon Callaghan. Up In Time won the grade III Harold C. Ramser Stakes at Santa Anita’s inaugural autumn meet. She was victorious in Del Mar’s San Clemente Handicap (gr. IIT) last summer. Both stakes were contested at one mile on turf.
Up In Time finished a well-beaten third in her only previous experience racing down the hill at Santa Anita. The Monrovia will be her first start since she clipped heels and lost jockey Garcia in Hollywood Park’s Matriarch Stakes (gr. IT) Nov. 25. Up In Time has won four of 11 career starts while earning $198,576. She is owned by Three Chimneys Racing and Lordship Stud.
Mizdirection, a lightly-raced daughter of Mizzen Mast, appears to be a filly on the rise. She is coming off an impressive allowance race win by 2 3/4 lengths at six furlongs over Hollywood Park’s turf as the 1-5 favorite Dec. 4.
$100,000 Monronia Stakes (gr. IIIT, Race 8, 4:07 p.m.), Fillies & Mares 4 & Up, 6 1/2 Furlongs (Turf) PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer 1. Mizdirection (KY), G K Gomez, 118, M Puype
2. Givine (FR), J Rosario, 118, J C Canani
3. Up In Time (GB), M Garcia, 123, S Callaghan
4. Wild Mia (FL), D R Flores, 118, J M Fanning
5. Remit (KY), C S Nakatani, 118, S M Asmussen
6. Champagne d'Oro (KY), J Talamo, 118, E J Guillot
7. Berg Bahn (IRE), V Espinoza, 118, P Gallagher
8. Fifth Commandment (IRE), M E Smith, 118, J M Cassidy
9. Separate Forest (KY), H I Berrios, 120, D F O'Neill
10. Unzip Me (CA), R Bejarano, 120, M F Jones
11. Silver Rock (IRE), E Maldonado-Alicea, 118, P L Biancone