Blind Luck makes her seasonal debut in the El Encino.<br><a target="blank" href="">Order This Photo</a>

Blind Luck makes her seasonal debut in the El Encino.
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Coglianese Photos

Blind Luck Rolls Dice in El Encino

Likely 3-year-old filly champion faces seven rivals in initial start of 2011.

Blind Luck, expected to be named champion 3-year-old filly at Eclipse Awards Monday evening, kicks off her 2011 campaign in the $150,000 El Encino Stakes (gr. II) Jan. 16 at Santa Anita.

A three-time grade I winner in 2010, Blind Luck is to face seven other fillies who just turned 4 in the 1 1/16-mile dirt track event. The El Encino, which also attracted grade I winner Champagne d'Oro, is the eighth race on the program with a 4:07 p.m. PST expected start.

Blind Luck won the first four starts of her career on dirt for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, including  grade I victories in the Kentucy Oaks and Alabama, but carries a two-race losing streak into the El Encino. She ran second as the 3-2 choice in the Breeders' Cup Ladies Classic (gr. I) Nov. 5 at Churchill Downs.

The late-running daughter of Pollard's Vision  was unable to overcome a slow pace in the 1 1/8-mile test that day and wound up beaten by 1 3/4 lengths by Unrivaled Belle. Blind Luck finished second in the Fitz Dixon Cotillion Stakes (gr. II) at Parx Racing at Philadelphia Park a month before the Breeders' Cup.

Bred in Kentucky by Fairlawn Farm and out of the Best of Luck mare Lucky One, Blind Luck is owned in part by Hollendorfer, who purchased her privately out of smashing maiden victory as a 2-year-old in Florida. She is also owned by Mark Dedomenico, John Carver, and Peter Abruzzo. She was an $11,000 purchase at the2008  Fasig-Tipton Kentucky July yearling sale.

Blind Luck, who also owns grade I victories last year in the Las Virgenes Stakes and in 2009 in the Hollywood Starlet, has never finished worse than third in 15 lifetime starts, including nine wins and earnings of $2,388,712. She carries co-top weight of 123 pounds and will break from post 2 with regular pilot Joel Rosario aboard.

Champagne d'Oro breaks from Blind Luck's inside seeking to atone for her sixth-place effort last time in Santa Anita's opening day La Brea Stakes (gr. I) Dec. 26.

Southern Equine Stable's daughter of Medaglia d'Oro  never fired in the La Brea while rallying wide into the stretch of the seven-furlong event. Trainer Eric Guillot is hoping additional ground will be the key. Champagne d'Oro has now lost three in a row since romping to victory in Saratoga's Test Stakes (gr. I) at seven furlongs in August. She also captured the Acorn stakes (gr. I) at one mile at Belmont Park last year.

Champagne d'Oro has raced twice previously at 1 1/16 miles. Her best effort was a second to Quiet Temper in the Fair Grounds Oaks (gr. II) last March. Joe Talamo retains the mount on the talented filly. She carries 120 pounds.

Arnold Zetcher's Always a Princess also comes out of the La Brea, where she faded to fourth after drawing close to the leaders for trainer Bob Baffert. The Leroidesanimauxfilly has lost two in a row since taking the Indiana Oaks (gr. II) over a sloppy Hoosier Park strip in October.

Always a Princess, who must also carry 123 pounds, will be ridden by Rafael Bejarano, who was aboard her in the La Brea. This will be the first try at the distance for Always a Princess, who figures to be on or near the lead.

Malibu Pier, trained by Carla Gaines for Spendthrift Farm, ran a suprisingly strong second in the La Brea while finishing four lengths behind the victorious Switch, who is skipping the El Encino. The daughter of Malibu Moon  won three of four previous starts in her career and was taking a huge step up in the La Brea. She won her only previous try at the El Encino distance, taking an off-the-turf optional claiming test over Hollywood Park's Cushion Track prior to the La Brea.

Stakes winner It Tiz, a Tiznow  filly, was fifth in the La Brea at 57-1 odds in her first try on dirt for trainer Mark Glatt.

Also in the El Encino is WinStar Farms' homebred maiden winner Life Well Lived, another daughter of Tiznow trained by Eoin Harty, and Joseph Allen's Our Georgia, an allowance winner in France last year that is now in the Neil Drysdale barn.

$150,000 El Encino Stakes (gr. II, Race 8, 4:07 p.m.), 4-Year-Old Fillies, 1 1/16 Miles
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Tr ainer
1. Champagne d'Oro (KY), J Talamo, 120, E J Guillot
2. Blind Luck (KY), J Rosario, 123, J Hollendorfer
3. Malibu Pier (KY), G K Gomez, 118, C Gaines
4. Fashion Trend (KY), V Espinoza, 118, C Dollase
5. Our Georgia (KY), P A Valenzuela, 118, N D Drysdale
6. Always a Princess (KY),R Bejarano, 123, B Baffert 
7. Life Well Lived (KY), A Quinonez, 118, E G Harty
8. It Tiz (KY), D R Flores, 118, M Glatt