Hollywood Starlet (gr. I) winner Streaming puts her unbeaten mark on the line when she returns in grade I company for the $300,000 Las Virgenes Stakes Feb. 1 at Santa Anita Park.
Trained by Bob Baffert for owner/breeders Hill 'n' Dale Equine Holdings and Edward McGhee, the Smart Strike filly drew the far outside post for her 3-year-old debut against seven other sophomore fillies. This will be Streaming's first start since she upset the Starlet Dec. 7 on the Betfair Hollywood Park Cushion Track by 1 1/2 lengths at odds of nearly 11-1. She pressed the pace that day before getting the lead from Taste Like Candy in the stretch and inching clear in an impressive performance.
Baffert has won the Las Virgenes three times previously, most recently in 2012 with Eden's Moon.
The Las Virgenes, at one mile, is Streaming's first start on dirt; the Kentucky-bred bay filly began her career at Hollywood Nov. 15 with a victory going six furlongs. She has done her training over the Santa Anita main track however, and has six timed drills since the Starlet. Her most recent, Dec. 26, was five furlongs in a handy :59 4/5.
"There's not really a concern," Baffert said of the switch in race surfaces. "I would assume she'd be better on the dirt. She's moved forward from her last race."
Martin Garcia will once again be in the irons aboard Streaming, who will shoulder 122 pounds, five more than each of her rivals.
Taste Like Candy also returns in the Las Virgenes, one of two in the field for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer. The daughter of Candy Ride , owned by Bad Boy Racing and Whizway Farms, has had one start since the Starlet, finishing second of four in the Santa Ynez Stakes (gr. II) when cut back to 6 1/2 furlongs Jan. 4. Rafael Bejarano is back aboard Taste Like Candy, who drew post 7 and could get get early pressure once more from Streaming as well as newcomer Fashion Plate.
Hollendorfer, who won the 2010 Las Virgenes with champion Blind Luck, will also send out Peachtree Stable’s Artemis. She showed good tactical speed when breaking her maiden at a mile Jan. 3. A Kentucky-bred by Empire Maker , Artemis will be making her fourth career start in the Las Virgenes.
Fashion Plate, from the Simon Callaghan barn for owners Arnold Zetcher and Michael Tabor, blitzed gate to wire by 6 1/2 lengths over maidens in her third start Dec. 29 at six furlongs in her first race at Santa Anita. She worked :59 4/5 over the track Jan. 25 with Gary Stevens aboard in preparation for her first attempt over a route distance.
"She came out of the maiden race really well," said Callaghan. "She's been training really well and I'm really happy with her work. We've always liked this filly a lot. Obviously she looked good winning last time and I think the stretch-out in distance is going to help her."
Trainer Eoin Harty will also be represented by a pair of fillies in the Las Virgenes—-Darley Stable’s homebred stakes winner Arethusa, and Wounded Warrior Stables' stakes-winning Sushi Empire.
A winner of the 1 1/16-mile Sharp Cat Stakes at Hollywood Park Nov. 16, Arethusa broke awkwardly in the Starlet and finished an even fifth, beaten 4 1/2 lengths. The daughter of A.P. Indy has the advantage of having routed in her last four starts. She has a win, a second and a third from five overall starts.
Sushi Empire will be making her first appearance on dirt, with her past four efforts coming on grass. A winner of the one-mile Blue Norther Stakes on the Santa Anita lawn Jan. 1, she has routed on turf in her last three starts. Forwardly placed when third, beaten 1 1/2 lengths in the one-mile Miesque Stakes (gr. IIIT) Nov. 30, the Empire Maker lass showed an impressive turn of foot when taking the Blue Norther from well off the pace by 1 1/4 lengths.
Saintly Joan, who broke her maiden going seven furlongs at Santa Anita Oct. 13, was sixth last time in the Blue Norther. British-bred Earthflight won three of her last four starts on the synthetic track at Wolverhampton and makes her United States debut for trainer Darrell Vienna.
The Las Virgenes, race 7 on the Saturday program with a 3:30 p.m. scheduled post time, will be followed by the $200,000 Arcadia Handicap (gr. IIT) for older horses at one mile on turf.
$300,000 Las Virgenes Stakes (gr. I, Race 7, 3:30 p.m.), 3YO Fillies, 1 Mile
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Saintly Joan (KY), M A Pedroza, 117, J O'Hara
2. Fashion Plate (KY), G L Stevens, 117, S Callaghan
3. Arethusa (KY), C S Nakatani, 117, E G Harty
4. Artemis (KY), M E Smith, 117, J Hollendorfer
5. Earthflight (GB), T Baze, 117, D Vienna
6. Sushi Empire (KY), V Espinoza. 117, E G Harty
7. Taste Like Candy (KY), R Bejarano, 117, J Hollendorfer
8. Streaming (KY), M Garcia, 122, B Baffert