Blind Luck can add a third grade I victory to her sterling record when she faces five rivals in the $250,000 Las Virgenes Stakes at Santa Anita Feb. 6.
The one-mile Pro-Ride test for 3-year-old fillies is the most lucrative of three graded stakes on the Santa Anita card and is set to go off as the fourth race at 2:03 p.m. PST. The other graded races are the $150,000 Robert B. Lewis Stakes (gr. II), a major prep for the Santa Anita Derby (gr. I), and the $200,000 Strub Stakes (gr. II) for 4-year-olds. The Lewis is the eighth race and the Strub follows it as the ninth.
Second in the Eclipse Award voting as the outstanding 2-year-old filly of 2009, Blind Luck is coming off a devastating seven-length score in the Hollywood Starlet (gr. I) across town Dec. 20. Ridden in the Starlet for the first time by Rafael Bejarano, Blind Luck displayed a dazzling turn of foot in the homestretch, rallying from fifth in the final quarter-mile.
"That was exciting," the usually reserved trainer Jerry Hollendorfer said afterward. "I've never seen her move like that."
Hollendorfer's longer-term goal for Blind Luck is the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) April 30. The daughter of Pollard's Vision won four of six starts as a juvenile with one second and one third and earnings of $709,050. Her third-place effort came in a slightly troubled trip in the Grey Goose Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I), a race won by eventual champion She Be Wild. The latter is reported to be also aiming for the Oaks.
She Be Wild and Blind Luck were co-highweighted fillies on the 2009 Experimental Handicap.
Blind Luck is owned in partnership by Mark DeDomenico, John Carver and Hollendorfer, who bought the chestnut filly privately after she romped to victory by 13 1/4 lengths in her debut at Calder Casino & Race Course over a $40,000 maiden claiming field last June. She has raced exclusively on synthetic tracks since, winning Oak Tree's Oak Leaf Stakes (gr. I) at Santa Anita prior to the Breeders' Cup.
“After she broke her maiden, the owner offered her for sale, and we bought her right away,” Hollendorfer said. “She was just a nice big filly, and she won so easy.”
Out of the Best of Luck mare Lucky One, Blind Luck was bred in Kentucky by Fairlawn Farm.
Bejarano returns to the saddle on Blind Luck, who will be a heavy favorite while carrying top weight of 122. To break from post 2, she'll spot her rivals between four and six pounds apiece.
Her most formidable foe is Crisp, who cuts back a bit in distance following her snappy one-length tally from off the pace in the 1 1/16-mile Santa Ysabel Stakes (gr. III) Jan. 10. The fast-developing daughter of El Corredor broke her maiden just a month earlier at Hollywood for trainer John Sadler and owner Michael Talla. Joel Rosario has the call once again on Crisp, who should not have too much difficulty with the outside post position in the small field.
Sadler also entered C R K Stable's Switch, who broke her maiden at first asking at Hollywood Dec. 13 and came back with a solid third-place effort when jumped into stakes company in the seven-furlong Santa Ynez (gr. II) last month. The daughter of Quiet American should set the pace with Tyler Baze aboard.
There are two other stakes winners in the field, California-breds La Nez and Evening Jewel.
La Nez, trained by Eric Kruljac, won the California Cup Juvenile Fillies in the fall and is coming off a third-place showing as the favorite against males in the Dec. 26 Cal Breeders Championship.
The Storm Creek filly was in the money in all six of her synthetic track starts last year, winning twice while earning $162,600, the second highest total in the Las Virgenes field. Her only off-the-board performance came in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf, when she split the field. La Nez will be rejoined by jockey Mike Smith, who rode her in the Cal Cup.
“Blind Luck will have to regress quite a bit for anyone to have a chance,” noted Kruljac.
Evening Jewel comes off a second-place effort in the Santa Ysabel when she was unable to fend off the late charge from Crisp. Trained by James Cassidy, the Northern Afleet miss won the filly division of the Cal Breeders Championship Dec. 27 and has been first or second in all four of her Santa Anita starts.
Summer Games, maiden winner Jan. 1 by a neck in her second race, completes the field.
“When you break your maiden, the non-winners never fill,” said Caesar Dominguez, who trains Summer Games. “Your choice is to run in a stakes or go out of town. But even if you go out of town, up north, those races don’t fill, so you’ve got to take a chance and see what you’ve got. Outside of Blind Luck, I think it’s a wide open race.”
$250,000 Las Virgenes Stakes (gr. I, Race 4, 2:03 p.m. PST), 3-Year-Old Fillies, 1 Mile (Synthetic)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Summer Games (KY), M C Baze, 116, C F Dominguez
2. Blind Luck (KY), R Bejarano, 122, J Hollendorfer
3. La Nez (CA), M E Smith, 118, J E Kruljac
4. Switch (KY), T Baze, 116, J W Sadler
5. Evening Jewel (CA), V Espinoza, 118, J M Cassidy
6. Crisp (KY), J Rosario, 118, J W Sadler