Cambina begins her 2012 campaign in the Buena Vista.

Cambina begins her 2012 campaign in the Buena Vista.

Benoit Photography

Cambina Likely Pick in Full Buena Vista Field

American Oaks winner faces several strong challengers in one-mile Santa Anita event.

American Oaks (gr. IT) winner Cambina gets her 2012 campaign underway in the Buena Vista Handicap (gr. IT) on the Santa Anita grass course Feb. 20.

The little Irish-bred filly has not started since an eighth-place showing in the Sentient Jet Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf (gr. IT) Nov. 4. The effort was better than it seems on a soggy course that didn't suit her at Churchill Downs. The daughter of Hawk Wing ran on well at 36-1 odds to finish just 2 3/4 lengths behind the victorious longshot Perfect Shirl.

Trained by Jeff Bonde for a partnership that includes owners Anthony Bilich, Jason Cline, and George Schmitt, 4-year-old Cambina will face an overflow field in the one-mile Presidents' Day feature. Eleven older fillies and mares are entered with one also-eligible. The Buena Vista goes as the eighth race on the card at approximately 4:07 p.m. PST.

Cambina showed what she was made of when she was forced to steady severely in traffic along the inside in the 1 1/4-mile American Oaks last July at Hollywood Park. She was able to overcome the trouble, however, rallying from fifth to finish in a dead-heat for the win with Nereid. Cutting back quite a bit for her return here, Cambina has shown she can be effective at one mile, winning three of five starts at the distance. Two of those wins came at Santa Anita.

Mike Smith will aboard Cambina, who will break from post 3 with top weight of 120 pounds. The chestnut has won six of 15 starts overall with earnings of $390,426.

City to City has been freshened since a close fourth-place try as the 9-5 choice in the Robert J. Frankel Stakes (gr. IIT) Jan. 1. The 5-year-old City Zip mare won the Palomar Handicap (gr. IIT) at Del Mar last summer for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer but has lost four in a row since then. Hollendorfer owns the chestnut in partnership with Will DeBurgh and Dr. Mark Dedominico. Corey Nakatani has the mount.

Robert S. Evans' Chilean-bred 5-year-old mare Vamo a Galupiar is one to look out for. From the Neil Drysdale barn, she's a grade I winner in her native country who roared to a 3 1/4-length triumph after spotting the field 15 lengths in the one-mile Megahertz Stakes Jan. 21. Sent off at 11-1 odds, it was just the second United States start for the daughter of Proud Citizen following a dull effort in Wilshire Stakes (gr. IIIT) nearly nine months earlier. Joe Talamo has the return assignment.

"She got tired and she wasn’t quite right,” Drysdale said in reference to the Wilshire. “Then she bruised something behind. It wasn’t any big deal. She just needed time.”

Trainer Ben Cecil has entered three in the Buena Vista, led by Great Britain-bred Strawberrydaiquiri. The 6-year-old daughter of Dansili was a multiple group winner in England for Sir Michael Stoute and faced many of the top female runners in Europe. She has started just once in North America, finishing 10th in Woodbine's E.P. Taylor Stakes (Can-IT) on a yielding course at 10 furlongs Oct. 16. This would be her first start since.

“She’s been working well and that yielding course probably didn’t suit her,” Cecil said. “I think she’ll be better at a mile to a mile and an eighth. She might need this race a little bit, but she has been training pretty well.”

In 16 starts, Strawberrydaiquiri has a 6-2-1 record with earnings of $430,676 for owner Fawzi Nass. She worked four furlongs on Santa Anita’s main track Feb. 16 in :49 2/5.

Cecil also entered stakes winner Andina, an Irish-bred 5-year-old mare owned by Arnold Zetcher, and E. Z. Stable's British-bred filly So Belle, an allowance winner on the Santa Anita turf Jan. 6.

Stuck on the outside but not without a shot is the hard-trying Briecat, a 7-year-old with 10 wins from 30 lifetime starts and earnings of $629,137 for owners David and Holly Wilson. Briecat won the one-mile Las Palmas Handicap (gr. IIT) over the course in October 2010 and usually strikes at a price for trainer Vladimir Cerin.

$150,000 Buena Vista Handicap (gr. IIT, Race 8, 4:07 p.m.), Fillies & Mares 4 & Up, 1 Mile (Turf)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Wild Mia (FL), D R Flores, 116, J M Fanning
2. Strawberrydaiquiri (GB), J Rosario, 117, B D Cecil
3. Cambina (IRE), M E Smith, 120, J Bonde
4. Camille C (CA), K Stra, 113, M Polanco
5. Vamo a Galupiar (CHI), J Talamo, 117, N D Drysdale
6. Sweetly Peppered (CA), K Krigger, 115, A Paszkeicz
7. Up In Time (GB), B Blanc, 117, S Callaghan
8. Andina (IRE), F Lenclud, 117, B D Cecil
9. City to City (KY), C S Nakatani, 119, J Hollendorfer
10. So Belle (GB), C Sutherland, 114, B D Cecil
11. Briecat (FL), V Espinoza, 118, V Cerin
Also Eligible
12. Secret Cove (CA), E Flores, 112, P Miller