Benoit Photo

Santa Ana Features Return of Emollient

Juddmonte filly won three grade I races in 2013, ran fourth in BC Filly & Mare Turf.

Emollient, a three-time grade I winner last year for Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott, makes her first start of the 2014 season in the $200,000 Santa Ana Stakes (gr. IIT) on the turf at Santa Anita Park March 16.

Juddmonte Farms' returning 4-year-old daughter of Empire Maker  heads a solid lineup of seven older fillies and mares in the 1 1/8-mile Santa Ana, the seventh race on Santa Anita's Sunday program with a 3:30 p.m. PDT scheduled post.

Shipping in from Payson Park in Florida, Emollient makes her first start since finishing fourth after setting the pace in the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf (gr. IT) Nov. 2 in her initial try at Santa Anita. Beaten by just one length, she fought back gamely along the rail at 14-1 odds after being headed in the stretch, and was nosed for the show spot in the 1 1/4-mile event.

She showed her versatility earlier in the season, winning the Ashland (gr. I) and Spinster Stakes (gr. I) on the Keeneland Polytrack and the American Oaks Invitational (gr. IT) on the Betfair Hollywood Park lawn, while earning nearly $1 million in 2013.

The Santa Ana poses a rematch of the top three from last summer's American Oaks, with runner-up Emotional Kitten, beaten by half a length by Emollient, and third-place finisher Topic also entered.

Emollient, who drew post 6 while sharing top weight of 123 pounds with Emotional Kitten, owns a lifetime mark of five wins and two seconds from 11 races with earnings of $1,078,900, by far the most in the field. The bay filly is to be ridden once again by Mike Smith.

Mott has tabbed a second Hall of Fame rider, Gary Stevens, for the mount on Floral Romance, who starts from the outside post in the Santa Ana. The Pam and Marty Wygod homebred 5-year-old by After Market was an even third in her most recent try, the Endeavour Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Tampa Bay Downs Jan. 25.

Like Mott with Emollient, trainer Wesley Ward has pointed Ken and Sarah Ramsey's homebred Emotional Kitten to the Santa Ana for her first start of the 2014 campaign. The 4-year-old Kitten's Joy  filly ran third in the Del Mar Oaks (gr. IT) following the American Oaks, and concluded her season Nov. 16 with a half-length score in the Mrs. Revere Stakes (gr. IIT) on the Churchill Downs grass. Victor Espinoza retains the mount.

Topic, trained by Hall of Famer Neil Drysdale for Alice Bamford and Anthony Speelman, has not raced since finishing last of seven in the Rodeo Drive Stakes (gr. IT) at Santa Anita Sept. 28. Her third in the American Oaks was her first start against winners after breaking her maiden last June on the Hollywood lawn. Corey Nakatani rides the 4-year-old daughter of Discreet Cat.

Argentinian-bred mare Miss Serendipity, a group I winner on turf in her native country, comes off a fourth after setting the pace in the one-mile Buena Vista Handicap (gr. IIT) Feb. 17 in her second United States start. Hall of Fame trainer Ron McAnally, seeking a change in tactics, has named Brice Blanc to ride.

"She doesn’t want to be on the lead," said McAnally, who won the 2001 Santa Ana with Beautiful Noise. "All of Miss Serendipity’s races in Argentina, she came from off the pace, on a slow pace, too."

Miss Serendipity, who has the rail in the Santa Ana, was also entered in the Santa Margarita (gr. I) on dirt March 15. However, Matias Cavalieri's 6-year-old daughter of Not For Sale is likely to remain on the turf, McAnally said.

Completing the field are Stormy Lucy, fifth last time in the Buena Vista, and Nickels Wild, stepping up off a second in an entry-level allowance at the Santa Ana distance Feb. 9.

$200,000 Santa Ana Stakes (gr. IIT, Race 7, 3:30 p.m.), Fillies & Mares 4 & Up, 1 1/8 Miles (Turf)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Miss Serendipity (ARG), B Blanc, 120, R L McAnally
2. Stormy Lucy (KY), R Bejarano, 118, F Lucarelli
3. Emotional Kitten (PA), V Espinoza, 123, W A Ward
4. Topic (KY), C S Nakatani, 118, N D Drysdale
5. Nickels Wild (KY), M Garcia, 118, C B Greely
6. Emollient (KY), M E Smith, 123, W I Mott
7. Floral Romance (KY), G L Stevens, 118, W I Mott