Frankel has predicted big things as a sire for his former racing star Empire Maker, whose first crop has just turned 3. The Hall of Fame conditioner made his point emphatically to Southern California observers Dec. 15 when Country Star, another daughter of Empire Maker, made it back-to-back grade I wins to close out her 2007 juvenile campaign with a resounding victory in the Hollywood Starlet (gr. I).
Frankel said at the time that he had five Empire Maker babies in his barn, and four are fillies. One is the lightly raced Turn Away, with two prior starts.
The bay won her debut by nine lengths in a seven-furlong maiden race Oct. 28 at Churchill Downs. She jumped into the 1 1/16-mile Golden Rod Stakes (gr. II) at Churchill a month later and finished third as the even-money favorite following an eventful trip. Turn Away stumbled at the start in the Golden Rod but recovered to race in contention before having to steady in traffic at the three-sixteenths pole. She wound up 2 3/4 lengths behind the winning Pure Clan.
Rafael Bejarano, aboard for both previous races on Turn Away, gets the mount once more. Turn Away, who is out of the Known Fact mare Averti, has been working at Hollywood Park for the past month.
There are just five fillies entered for the Santa Ysabel, which is contested at 1 1/16 miles.
Initiation, winner of the Glorious Song Stakes in Canada for trainer Graham Motion in November, is the most accomplished of the group.
The Augustin Stable-owned daughter of Deputy Minister has been training at Hollywood Park for the past month following her come-from-behind 1 1/4-length win in Woodbine's seven-furlong Glorious Song Nov. 18. That victory makes her the only Santa Ysabel entrant to have beaten winners.
Initiation is to carry 120 pounds in her graded stakes debut, six more than the others, and will be ridden for the first time by Julien Leparoux.
The Kentucky-bred chestnut has won two of her three starts, including a six-furlong debut win over maidens by 10 lengths at Laurel Park Sept. 5. She followed that effort one month later with her only previous route try, finishing fourth while racing wide in the 1 1/16-mile Darley Alcibiades (gr. I) over Keeneland's Polytrack.
In the Glorious Song, Initiation quickened impressively under Jeremy Rose in the final furlong to win with something left in reserve.
Since none of the Santa Ysabel entrants has shown much interest in racing on the lead, Initiation and Turn Away could find themselves in that position.
Perhaps a return to softer company will help Grace Anatomy, whose fortunes have taken a downturn for trainer Doug O'Neill since she finished third in the Alcibiades in just her third start.
Grace Anatomy had a terrible trip in the Grey Goose Vodka Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) in her next outing at sloppy Monmouth Park, finishing seventh, 18 lengths behind the victorious Indian Blessing, after being floated wide on the first turn. She then returned to beat just one while coming home eighth, 12 lengths behind Country Star, without an apparent excuse in the 1 1/16-mile Hollywood Starlet (gr. I) Dec. 15.
Garrett Gomez rides the daughter of Aldebaran for the first time.
Final Fling was a seven-furlong maiden winner by a head over California breds as the 11-10 favorite in her last race Dec. 21 at Hollywood Park. Now with three races to the bay filly's credit, trainer Jeff Mullins tackles graded company.
“She feels great,” said jockey Joe Talamo, who rode the daughter of Bertrando in two of her prior races. “I think she has all the chance in the world to win this race.”
Kazamira defeated Final Fling by three-quarters of a length in a maiden race at seven furlongs at Hollywood Nov. 24, but the John Shirreffs trainee has not been out since. Owned by Mr. & Mrs. Jerry Moss, Kazamira has had two starts, finishing third in her debut in September. The Kentucky bred is by Dynaformer out of the Conquistador Cielo filly Proper Cielo.
$100,000 Santa Ysabel Stakes (gr. III, Race 3, 1:03 p.m.), 3-Year-Old Fillies, 1 1/16 Miles (All Weather)
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Initiation (KY), 120, Julien R. Leparoux
2. Kazamira (KY), 114, Mike E. Smith
3. Grace Anatomy (KY), 114, Garrett K. Gomez
4. Final Fling (CA), 114, Joseph Talamo
5. Turn Away (KY), 114, Rafael Bejarano