Egg Drop makes her first start of 2014 in the Buena Vista Stakes.

Egg Drop makes her first start of 2014 in the Buena Vista Stakes.

Benoit Photo

Sizzling Egg Drop Heads Buena Vista Field

Grade I winner starts new season on three-race win streak for trainer Mike Mitchell.

Grade I winner Egg Drop starts her 2014 campaign in the $200,000 Buena Vista Stakes (gr. IIT) on Presidents' Day Feb. 17 at Santa Anita Park with a three-race winning streak that trainer Mike Mitchell credits in great part to jockey Martin Garcia.

The 5-year-old grass mare by 1996 Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I) winner Alphabet Soup is certainly not camera shy, either. The striking gray owns successive victories in the Yellow Ribbon (gr. IIT) at Del Mar by a head, the Goldikova (gr. IIT) at Santa Anita by a head, and the Matriarch Stakes (gr. IT) at Betfair Hollywood Park by a nose.

Garcia has ridden Egg Drop in her past five races, winning four and finishing second by a half-length the other time, so he has found the secret by allowing her to relax a little bit during her races. It worked out well in the Dec. 1 Matriarch, when Egg Drop was passed mid-stretch of the one-mile event but fought back gamely along the rail to nip Discreet Marq.

"Martin's a good rider, and he's smart," said Mitchell. "It looked like Egg Drop was going to be beaten in the Matriarch, but Martin switched sticks right at the last moment. She responded to it and won. It wasn't something I told him to do; it was instinctive on his part."

He added: "I always felt Egg Drop needed to have the lead to run her best, even when I was running her short. But the new strategy was nothing I told Martin. He just figured it out and let her sit behind and ever since it's been successful."

Owned by the Litte Red Feather Racing partnership, Florida-bred Egg Drop will be making her first start since the Matriarch in the Buena Vista, which also is contested at one mile. She'll be facing a strong lineup of older fillies and mares that includes a pair of Glen Hill Farm standouts, Pontchatrain and Customer Base, Stormy Lucy, Argentine import Miss Serendipity, and Bill Mott's Florida invader Tapicat.

The Buena Vista, the seventh on a nine-race holiday card, attracted a field of 10 and is scheduled to go off at 3:30 p.m. PST.

Egg Drop, with six wins from 12 starts and earnings of $494,020, drew post 2 and will shoulder top weight of 123 pounds. She brings a steady pattern of workouts going back to the start of the Santa Anita meet and most recently turned in a handy five-furlong move Feb.10 in 1:00 2/5 over the main track.

Glen Hill Farms and trainer Tom Proctor will be well-represented by Customer Base and Pontchatrain, who will race uncoupled.

Customer Base captured the nine-furlong Robert J. Frankel (gr. IIIT) Dec. 29 by a nose over Stormy Lucy with a big late kick after finishing third behind Egg Drop in the Nov. 3 Goldikova. Pontchatrain is on a three-stakes win streak of her own, all coming on Santa Anita's hillside course at about 6 1/2 furlongs, including the Sen. Ken Maddy (gr. IIIT) Nov. 2 and most recently, the Jan. 5 Monrovia (gr. IIT).

Pontchatrain will be stretching out to a mile for the first time since finishing fourth in the Sandy Blue Handicap at Del Mar last August. Proctor has tabbed a pair of Hall of Fame riders for the Buena Vista. Gary Stevens has the return engagement on Pontchatrain, a 4-year-old War Front  filly who starts from post 7. Mike Smith, who won last year's Buena Vista with Mizdirection, is back aboard Customer Base, a 5-year-old mare by Lemon Drop Kid  that drew the far outside slot. 

Erica Gaunt's Stormy Lucy, a stakes winner at Golden Gate Fields in the fall for trainer Frank Lucarelli, just missed at the wire in the Frankel with a big late charge. The 5-year-old Stormy Atlantic  mare will have Isaias Enriquez riding once more, this time from post 9.

Four-year-old Tapicat arrives from Florida for Mott and owner Besilu Stables off a 7 1/2-furlong grass tally in a stakes at Gulfstream Park Jan. 1. She won the Florida Oaks (gr. IIIT) at Tampa Bay Downs one year ago and later placed in both the Lake George (gr. IIT) at Saratoga Race Course and the listed Pebbles Stakes at Belmont Park and seems to fit well here. John Velazquez flies in for the mount.

Ron McAnally sends out Miss Serendipity, who should improve off a troubled fourth in the listed Paseana Stakes Jan. 12 as the favorite in her first United States start. She was a group I winner in her native Argentina in her previous start last June.

Others with a shot are Appealing, second by a head to Egg Drop in the Yellow Ribbon; Ren-Mar Thoroughbreds' Dancingtothestars, coming off a victory in the listed Megahertz at one mile Jan. 18; British-bred Moone's My Name, fifth in the Frankel for trainer John Sadler; and the multiple stakes winner Unusual Hottie for trainer Jeff Mullins.

$200,000 Buena Vista Stakes (gr. IIT, Race 7, 3:30 p.m.), Fillies & Mares 4 & Up, 1 Mile (Turf)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Miss Serendipity (ARG), R Bejarano, 120, R L McAnally
2. Egg Drop (FL), M Garcia, 123, M R Mitchell
3. Appealing (IRE), B Blanc, 118, P Gallagher
4. Tapicat (KY), J R Velazquez, 118, W I Mott
5. Moone's My Name (GB), V Espinoza, 118, J W Sadler
6. Dancingtothestars (CA), M Gutierrez, 118, D F O'Neill
7. Pontchatrain (KY), G L Stevens, 118, T F Proctor
8. Unusual Hottie (CA), T Baze, 118, J Mullins
9. Stormy Lucy (KY), I D Enriquez, 118, F Lucarelli
10. Customer Base (KY), M E Smith, 118, T F Proctor