Golden Doc A (outside) looks for her first graded stakes victory in the Las Virgenes Stakes.<br><a target="blank" href="">Order This Photo</a>

Golden Doc A (outside) looks for her first graded stakes victory in the Las Virgenes Stakes.
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Las Virgenes Draws Loads of Talent

Seven fillies will contest the Feb. 9 event at Santa Anita.

David Abrams’ homebred Golden Doc A, who last month missed by a head to 2-year-old champion filly Indian Blessing in the Santa Ynez (gr. II), will look for her first graded stakes victory in the $250,000 Las Virgenes Stakes (gr. I) Feb. 9 on the Santa Anita Cushion Track - but she'll have to defeat a talented field of 3-year-old fillies to do it.

The seven-horse field for the one-mile Las Virgenes also includes a pair of Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) starters—Tasha’s Miracle and Grace Anatomy— and Michael Bello’s Lovely Isle, who opened her career in style before faltering badly in the Jan. 12 Old Hat Stakes (gr. II) at Gulfstream Park. 

A daughter of Unusual Heat—Penpont, by Crested Wave, Golden Doc A was well back of 1-10 favorite Indian Blessing in the Jan. 13 Santa Ynez, but unleashed a furious stretch drive that began from the rail in the seven-furlong event. She ate up ground quickly but just missed catching Indian Blessing, who was pressed early by current Las Virgenes entrant Peisinoe, the third-place finisher.

Trained by Barry Abrams, Golden Doc A also showed the same impressive closing ability in the Oct. 20 Anoakia Stakes at Santa Anita, when she came from the back to win by a head. Since then, the California-bred chestnut filly has been winless in four starts, but was a game third in the Miesque Stakes (gr. IIIT) Nov. 24 on the Hollywood Park turf.

Rafael Bejarano, who rode for the first time in the Santa Ynez, will get the mount again, breaking from post four.

Kentucky-bred Grace Anatomy turned in a nice performance in her most recent start, the Jan. 13 Santa Ysabel Stakes (gr. III) at Santa Anita. In the 1 1/16-mile event, the daughter of Aldebaran pressed the early pace under Garrett Gomez and took a short advantage into the stretch before giving way grudgingly in the final yards.

Grace Anatomy has started twice since finishing seventh in the Oct. 27 Breeders’ Cup Fillies on the Monmouth Park slop, as she was also a well-beaten eighth in Dec. 15 Hollywood Starlet (gr. I). Trainer Doug O’Neill thinks she is starting to turn a corner now.

“We’re fired up,” O’Neill said. “She kind of went off form around Breeders’ Cup time. I can’t really pinpoint the reason other than maybe she was on the road so much. We had her at Keeneland in the fall too (third in Darley Alcibiades, gr. I), so maybe she was starting to feel the effects of traveling. She was also in heat the week of the Starlet and I gave her medication, which could have threw her off. She was flat.

“But she’s a versatile horse and she gives 100% when she’s right. After Garrett (Gomez) rode her last time he said after the race that she didn’t really handle the track. So that’s encouraging considering how she ran.”

Victor Espinoza gets the call in the Las Virgenes.

Budget Stable and Team Valor International’s Tasha’s Miracle makes her return from a more than three-month layoff after finishing fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Fillies. The daughter of Harlan's Holiday is 2-1-0 from five lifetime starts, including a 3 ¼-length victory in the Aug. 8 Sorrento (gr. III) at Del Mar.

Trainer John Sadler said the Florida-bred filly is ready for a big 3-year-old campaign. “There was no real problem with her, but we wanted to freshen her after having such a rough trip on Breeders’ Cup day,” he said. “There probably wasn’t a horse who didn’t feel the effects of the track that day. She wasn’t sore or anything, but that was a long trip for her and we had to give her a break somewhere along the line.

“She is training very well right now. We’ll see how it plays out but she might make the lead or stalk a little bit.”

Lovely Isle led after a half-mile in the 6 ½-furlong Old Hat, but tired badly in the final quarter to finish more than 18 lengths back of the winner. The Double Honor filly, who ran for trainer Rick Dutrow Jr., for the first time in the Old Hat, won her first two starts, including a starter allowance by 16 ½ lengths Dec. 6 at Aqueduct. Breaking from post three under David Flores, Lovely Isle should be the early pacesetter.

$250,000 Las Virgenes Stakes (gr. I, Race 7, 3:30 p.m.), Fillies 3 & Up, 1 Mile (Cushion Track)
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Divine Legacy (FL), 116, Joseph Talamo
2. Czechers (KY), 116, Joel Rosario
3. Lovely Isle (FL), 116, David Romero Flores
4. Golden Doc A (CA), 118, Rafael Bejarano
5. Peisinoe (FL), 116, Alex O. Solis
6. Tasha's Miracle (FL), 118, Martin Garcia
7. Grace Anatomy (KY), 116, Victor Espinoza