Home Sweet Aspen looms a solid favorite in the $100,000 Las Flores Stakes (gr. III) at Santa Anita March 8 when the recent grade I winner takes on five opponents.
From the John Sadler barn, the Craig Stables homebred daughter of Candy Ride won the seven-furlong Santa Monica Stakes (gr. I) Jan. 28 by a neck over Sugarinthemorning. She'll pick up five pounds off that effort, carrying 123, and will be cutting back in distance slightly for the 6 1/2-furlong Las Flores. The race, set for a 4:07 PDT post, is restricted to older fillies and mares.
Home Sweet Aspen showed remarkable resilience in fighting off her challenger in the Santa Monica after setting a strong pace and giving up the lead briefly in the stretch run.
Joel Rosario, has been aboard Home Sweet Aspen in all nine of her races, will guide the 4-year-old chestnut filly from post 4 in the small field. Home Sweet Aspen has four wins and three seconds for Sadler and earnings of $355,822.
Brazilian-bred Great Hot gets back to a more comfortable distance for her after fading to sixth in the 1 1/16-mile Santa Maria Stakes (gr. II) in her most recent try Feb. 18. Coudelaria Jessica's 4-year-old daughter of Orientate captured the Raven Run (gr. II) on Keeneland's Polytrack going seven furlongs last October. She began the Santa Anita meet with a third-place finish in the seven-furlong La Brea Stakes (gr. I) Dec. 31, nosing out Home Sweet Aspen for the show spot.
Trainer A.C. Avila has tabbed Mike Smith to ride Great Hot, who has won three of 10 starts in the United States. She will also carry 123 pounds.
She's Cheeky, third in the Santa Monica for trainer Peter Eurton while beaten by 2 1/2 lengths, also returns for the Las Flores. The 7-year-old daughter of Black Minnaloushe has proven consistency with 17 in-the-money finishes from 23 starts, but she has won just three times. She'll have the rail with Joe Talamo back aboard.
Izzy Rules steps into graded stakes company with a three-race win streak for trainer Jeff Bonde. George and Mary Clare Schmitt's 5-year-old Florida-bred Peace Rules mare won a $62,500 optional claiming race in her most recent start Feb. 3 at Santa Anita. She completed the 6 1/2-furlong distance in 1:14.61 while winning by 6 1/4 lengths.
Spectacular Sky, trained by Marty Jones, and Veloce Canzone, from the Patrick Biancone stable, also come into the race off allowance victories.
$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. She's Cheeky (KY), J Talamo, 118, P Eurton
2. Izzy Rules (FL), E A Maldonado, 118, J Bonde
3. Veloce Canzone (KY), F Lenclud, 118, P L Biancone
4. Home Sweet Aspen (KY), J Rosario, 123, J W Sadler
5. Great Hot (BRZ), M E Smith, 123, A C Avila
6. Spectacular Sky (KY), R Bejarano, 118, M F Jones