Ayanna Will Want Early Lead in Santa Ynez

While the outcome of Monday's $150,000 Santa Ynez Stakes for 3-year-old fillies won't be known until they run the grade II race at Santa Anita, there is one near-certainty in the race: Triple AAA Ranch Ayanna should have the lead at the first call.

The Arizona-bred by In Excess has three wins from six starts, all in front-running fashion. She has earnings of $145,750.

"That's how she's been going so far," said trainer Kory Owens. "Because (speed) comes so naturally to her, it's hard to slow her down. It just comes too easy for her."

In winning the Christmas Futurity at Turf Paradise on Dec. 22, Ayanna was timed in :43.60 for a half-mile en route to a 1 1/2-length win in the 6 1/2-furlong event.

In her only previous start at Santa Anita, Ayanna had a three-length lead after getting the opening quarter mile in :22.40 in the Oak Leaf Stakes last Sept. 30 but was eventually eased in the one-mile test.

"She jumped some pony tracks, or something, on the backstretch that shook her up pretty good," Owens said of the Oak Leaf experience. "It jarred her badly enough that she was sore for about 10 to 12 days afterward."

The grade II Santa Ynez is the second leg of the four-race Santa Anita Oaks series, which concludes with the 1 1/16-mile Oaks on March 9.

Probable for the Santa Ynez Stakes, with jockeys: Ayanna, Mike Smith; Candor, no rider; Fun House, no rider; Lady George, Jose Silva; Reine De Chateau, no rider; Respectful, Kent Desormeaux; Rich Musique, Patrick Valenzuela, and Twice As Golden, David Flores.

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