Can Argentina Replace Megahertz for Frankel?

(from Santa Anita notes)
Trainer Bobby Frankel, whose mighty mite Megahertz took the last three runnings of Santa Anita's $200,000 Santa Barbara Handicap (gr. IIT), aims to extend his streak on Saturday with Argentina.

Although much bigger than Megahertz, Irish-bred Argentina -- who also began her career in France -- is expected to be favored in the 1 1/4-mile turf event in her second United States start.

The 4-year-old bay filly closed strongly to finish second, one-half length behind Silver Cup, in the March 26 Santa Ana Handicap (gr. IIT) as the 13-10 choice with Alex Solis aboard. Solis, who will be back aboard on Saturday, was the regular pilot for the stretch-running Megahertz, who was retired late last year with earnings of $2,261,594 from 14 wins in 33 career races.

Owned by the Wildenstein Stable of France, Argentina won two of her six starts there while second in three others, including the French Oaks (Fr-I) at Chantilly and the Prix Saint-Alary (Fr-I) at Longchamp.

She will carry co-high weight of 116 pounds against six rivals while attempting to provide Frankel with his sixth Santa Barbara victory, one less than all-time leader Charlie Whittingham.

Grade I winner Sharp Lisa, also a 4-year-old filly, is the co-top weight and the richest entrant with earnings of $477,100 – compared to the $377,717 of Argentina. Corey Nakatani will handle the Kentucky-bred daughter of Dixieland Band, winless in five starts since a victory in last year's Las Virgenes (gr. I) on the dirt. Trained by Doug O'Neill for a partnership headed by J. Paul Reddam, Sharp Lisa has posted a career record of 3-2-1 in 11 starts.

O'Neill said he was encouraged by her first effort on turf, a fourth-place finish while beaten by less than a length in the 1 1/8-mile Santa Ana. She set the pace early in that race.

"We're excited about Sharp Lisa running Saturday," O'Neill said. "Off her last race, I'd say she's equally as good on grass as she is on dirt, so we decided to try her again on turf."

$200,000 Santa Barbara Handicap (gr. IIT, Race 5, 2:30 p.m.), Fillies & Mares 4 & Up, 1 1/4 Miles (Turf)
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Cissy (ARG), 113, Martin Pedroza
2. Sharp Lisa (KY), 116, Corey Nakatani
3. Hallowed Dream (IRE), 114, Jon Court
4. Eternal Melody (NZ), 114, Garrett Gomez
5. Theater R.N. (KY), 114, Patrick Valenzuela
6. Argentina (IRE), 116, Alex Solis
7. Aubonne (GER), 114, Victor Espinoza