One day after wrapping up the 2012 Breeders' Cup, Santa Anita will offer the Grade 2, $150,000 Goldikova (formerly Las Palmas) sending a competitive field of eight distaffers one mile over the turf on closing day Sunday.
Favored in four of her last five starts, including a third-place finish at 3-2 in the restricted Swingtime over course and distance on October 6, Irish-bred Byrony figures to again be well supported in the Goldikova.
Trained by John Sadler, the Byron four-year-old will be reunited with Rafael Bejarano, who has won twice with her and was aboard for a close sixth-place finish in the Grade 1 Rodeo Drive (formerly Yellow Ribbon) going 1 1/4 grassy miles on September 29. Byrony's best stateside efforts have come when she's stalked the pace at slightly longer distances.
A Jealous Woman has been a Cinderella Story for trainer Francis Meza, taking the Swingtime gate-to-wire most recently. The five-year-old daughter of Muqtarib was off at odds of 6-1 that day and was ridden by Brice Blanc, who retains the mount here. The chestnut mare is no stranger to Santa Anita's turf, racking up a 4-1-2 mark from seven starts, and will be making her graded bow in this spot.
Three distaffers -- Let's Go Cheyenne, City to City, and Vivo Per Lei who were off at odds of 7-2, 9-1 and 43-1, respectively -- all exit the Rodeo Drive and will be accorded respect in Sunday's Goldikova.
Let's Go Cheyenne had the early lead in the Rodeo Drive under Bejarano, but folded turning for home, finishing eighth in the 13-horse field, beaten 10 lengths. The four-year-old Kentucky-bred daughter of Tiznow opened up a 12-length lead in the C.T.T. & TOC Handicap at Del Mar on August 24 and prevailed in gate-to-wire fashion by 5 3/5 lengths prior to the Rodeo Drive. She'll be ridden for the first time on Sunday by Tyler Baze.
By contrast, City to City was taken far off the early Rodeo Drive pace, as she was seventh, 14 lengths behind Let's Go Cheyenne after the first quarter-mile. Although she employed a different style, the result was similar, as she finished 10th, beaten 11 3/4 lengths. A winner of the Grade 2 John C. Mabee in mid-August at Del Mar, the City Zip mare is a course and distance winner thanks to a head score in the Grade 2 Buena Vista Handicap on February 20.
City to City and jockey Joel Rosario would no doubt appreciate a fast pace and she appears better suited at the Goldikova distance of one mile.
The John Shirreffs-conditioned Vivo Per Lei was dismissed at 43-1 in the Rodeo Drive off a third in the Yellow Ribbon and ran like it, finishing 12th, beaten 23 1/2 lengths. The Empire Maker five-year-old sat a close second early but was done at the top of the Camino Real stretch. Vivo Per Lei has been in steady training at Shirreffs' Hollywood Park base and she'll be making her third start in Southern California on Sunday.
A Group 2 winner in Turkey on September 1, Rhythm of Light is perhaps the biggest question mark in Sunday's Goldikova. Trained by Tom Dascombe, the four-year-old English-bred daughter of Beat Hollow will get the services of Garrett Gomez for her U.S. debut.
Rhythm of Light carried 132 pounds to victory in winning the Group 2 Istanbul International Trophy and she's been assigned 124 pounds on Sunday. The bay miss is also a winner at last year's Royal Ascot, taking the Sandringham Handicap going a turf mile by 1 1/4 lengths. She'll likely remain stateside with trainer Simon Callaghan after she competes in Sunday's closing day feature.
Stakes-placed Hard to Resist, idle since running fourth in the 1 1/16-mile Las Madrinas Handicap on September 22 at Fairplex Park, returns to turf on Sunday and seeks her first stakes win for trainer Peter Eurton. I Dazzle, sixth while making just her second stakes try in the Rodeo Drive, completes the field.