Teddy's Promise, recent winner of the Santa Monica Stakes (gr. II), is a clear standout among eight older fillies and mares set for the $100,000 Las Flores Stakes (gr. III) March 10 at Santa Anita Park.
The Las Flores, at 6 1/2 furlongs, will mean a slight cutback in distance for Teddy's Promise, whose victory by three lengths in the Santa Monica Jan. 26 came over a wet/fast track at seven furlongs. But it shouldn't make much difference to the 5-year-old mare, who has won three of six starts at the Las Flores distance.
Ron Ellis trains the California homebred owned by Ted and Judy Nichols. The daughter of Salt Lake, who won the La Brea Stakes (gr. I) in December 2011, is at the peak of her game right now. She captured the 6 1/2-furlong Kalookan Queen over the track by 5 1/4 lengths a month before the Santa Monica.
In the Santa Monica, Teddy's Promise was able to stalk the pace handily in third before angling out slightly for the drive and drawing off to a daylight advantage in the final furlong. She has put in six published workouts at Betfair Hollywood Park since that victory, most recently clocking six furlongs over Cushion Track in a bullet 1:12 4/5 March 3.
The Las Flores, the only graded stakes scheduled in the United States Sunday, is set for a 4:07 p.m. PDT post.
Victor Espinoza has the return mount on Teddy's Promise, who drew post 5 and will carry top weight of 123 pounds. She will be tackling four of the opponents she beat in the Santa Monica.
Among those she has not faced before is Fawzi Nass' Shumoos, a 4-year-old filly on the comeback trail for trainer Ben Cecil. A group III winner in England in 2011, she has won her only start since finishing a fast-closing second in spite of trouble when facing males in the inaugural Breeders' Cup Juvenile Sprint at Churchill Downs in 2011.
In her comeback race Jan. 25, the Pennsylvania-bred daughter of Distorted Humor dominated an allowance group on a wet/fast Santa Anita main track, winning in front-running style under steady handling by 2 1/2 lengths. Garrett Gomez, who has ridden Shumoos in both of her prior U.S. starts, has the call.
Sugarinthemorning was able to follow Teddy's Promise all the way around in the Santa Monica but her mild late bid was only good enough to land the place spot without threatening the winner. The 5-year-old Candy Ride mare, conditioned by Hall of Famer Ron McAnally for owner Stephen Weissman, has lost 10 straight races but was second in seven of them.
Also coming out of the Santa Monica is Distracting (fourth), Belle of the Hall (fifth), and Pink Lollipops (seventh).
Distracting, who bounced back with a front-running allowance victory at 6 1/2 furlongs Feb. 21, and Pink Lollipops are both from the barn of Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert. Belle of the Hall races for trainer Steve Asmussen.
Gary Stevens is aboard the Mark Glatt-trained Quizzical, a Washington-bred filly making her stakes debut for owners Allen and Susan Branch. Rumor, seventh for trainer Richard Mandella in the Wishing Well Stakes on the hillside turf course Feb. 10 after a poor start, completes the field.
$100,000 Las Flores Stakes (gr. III, Race 8, 4:07 p.m.), Fillies & mares 4 & Up, 6 1/2 Furlongs
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Belle of the Hall (FL), C S Nakatani, 118, S M Asmussen
2. Rumor (KY), M E Smith, 118, R E Mandella
3. Shumoos (PA), G K Gomez, 118, B D Cecil
4. Distracting (KY), R Bejarano, 118, B Baffert
5. Teddy's Promise (CA), V Espinoza, 123, R W Ellis
6. Sugarinthemorning (CA), M Garcia, 118, R L McAnally
7. Pink Lollipops (KY), D R Flores, 118, B Baffert
8. Quizzical (WA), G L Stevens, 118, M Glatt