After giving Mizdirection quite a tussle earlier this month on the hillside turf course, the speedster Kindle switches to dirt for the $250,000 Santa Monica Stakes (gr. II) Jan. 26 at Santa Anita Park.
The 5-year-old daughter of Indian Charlie is one of nine older fillies and mares entered in the seven-furlong Santa Monica, which was reduced this year from a grade I event. The well-matched Santa Monica is the headline test on a program of six stakes races Saturday worth nearly $1.2 million. It is the eighth on the card with a 3:30 p.m. PST scheduled post.
Trained by Gary Mandella for owner HnR Nothhaft Horse Racing, Kindle makes a fairly quick return from her runner-up effort in the down-the-hill Monrovia Stakes (gr. IIT) Jan. 6. She led to deep stretch in that one before being edged by a half-length by 2012 Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint (gr. IT) champion Mizdirection.
Though winless in three starts over Santa Anita's main track, Kindle has a prior stakes win on dirt, taking the Bangles & Beads at Fairplex Park by three lengths Sept. 21. She has had one work since her big effort in the Monrovia, cruising a half-mile over the Cushion Track at Betfair Hollywood Park in :47 1/5 Jan. 19.
Kindle, to be ridden from post 8 by Edwin Maldonado, brings a solid record of four wins and three seconds from nine lifetime starts as she resumes her pursuit of a first graded stakes win. This will be her initial try at seven furlongs.
The Santa Monica lineup includes three mares that ran in the race last year—runner-up Sugarinthemorning as well as grade I winner Teddy's Promise and Rumor, fifth and sixth, respectively.
Stephen Weissman's homebred Sugarinthemorning looks to put the brakes on a nine-race losing skid for trainer Ron McAnally. The daughter of Candy Ride just missed by just a neck to Home Sweet Aspen in last year's race, one of six second-place finishes she has recorded during her current streak.
Sugarinthemorning's last victory came in the Fleet Treat Stakes on the Polytrack at Del Mar in July 2011. She has not been out since a fading seventh as the 6-5 pick in the California Cup Distaff in October. Martin Garcia is back aboard.
Teddy's Promise, trained by Ron Ellis for owner/breeders Ted and Judy Nichols, won the 2011 La Brea Stakes (gr. I), one of three victories the 5-year-old Salt Lake mare owns on the Santa Anita main track. In her most recent start Dec. 29 at Santa Anita, she romped by 5 1/4 in the Kalookan Queen Stakes.
In last year's Santa Monica, which followed her La Brea victory, Teddy's Promise was bottled up in traffic from the quarter pole to upper stretch and was unable to recover. Prior to the Kalookan Queen, she weakened to eighth in the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (gr. I) Nov. 3 after setting the pace for a half mile.
Rumor also ran in the seven-furlong BC Filly & Mare Sprint, finishing fifth. Another daughter of Indian Charlie, the 5-year-old won the L.A. Woman stakes over the track at 6 1/2 furlongs for Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella before that.
"She ran good," said Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith, who was aboard for the Breeders’ Cup race and retains the mount in the Santa Monica. "We would have liked her to run a little better, but if I can get her to run like she did the race before that (in the LA Woman), she’ll be tough."
Rumor worked four furlongs on Santa Anita’s fast main track Jan. 21 in 48 seconds.
Also coming out of the BC Filly & Mare Sprint is Dixiana Farms' Belle of the Hall, who ran a respectable fourth at 49-1 odds for trainer Steve Asmussen. The hard-knocking 6-year-old Graeme Hall mare brings solid credentials from New York and Florida while recording six wins from 23 starts with earnings of $493,170.
Gary Stevens shows up on the British-bred Byrama, making her first start on dirt for trainer Simon Callaghan. Byrama comes off a fourth in the Monrovia, her only out-of-the-money showing from seven starts on the Santa Anita turf.
Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert is represented by a pair in Distracting and Pink Lollipops. Distracting, a 4-year-old daughter of Distorted Humor , shortens back up to a sprint distance after finishing second as the favorite in the 1 1/16-mile Pasaena Handicap. Pink Lollipops, a 5-year-old Silver Deputy mare, was fourth last time in the Kalookan Queen.
Argentina-bred Journaliste, fourth in her North American debut in November, completes the field.
$250,000 Santa Monica Stakes (gr. I, Race 8, 3:30 p.m.), Fillies & Mares 4 & Up, 7 Furlongs
PP. Horse, Jockey, Trainer
1. Journaliste (ARG), G K Gomez, J W Sadler
2. Distracting (KY), R Bejarano, B Baffert
3. Sugarinthemorning (CA), M Garcia, R L McAnally
4. Teddy's Promise (CA), V Espinoza, R W Ellis
5. Belle of the Hall (FL), C S Nakatani, S M Asmussen
6. Byrama (GB), G L Stevens, S Callaghan
7. Rumor (KY), M E Smith, R E Mandella
8. Kindle (KY), E A Maldonado, G Mandella
9. Pink Lollipops (KY), J Talamo, B Baffert
All carry 118 pounds.