Pesci Returns From Eye Injury in Santa Lucia

(from Santa Anita report)
Pesci, the speedy 4-year-old filly, and Joe Pesci, the Academy Award-nominated actor who owns a share of the horse, will be at Santa Anita Park Sunday for the $75,000 Santa Lucia Handicap for older fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles.

Pesci, a Florida-bred daughter of Stormy Atlantic , nearly lost her left eye when hit by a rock during the running of the Sunshine Millions Distaff at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 24. Fortunately, she recovered and has been training smartly for her first race since the incident.

The filly won the first two starts of her career for trainer Wesley Ward before being injured.

Ward said the Santa Lucia is not the ideal starting point for Pesci's return.

"I would have hoped to (have) gone in allowance race," Ward said. "That's how you develop horses, you go through their conditions, but unfortunately we entered for a race a week ago today, two-other-than going a mile, and it didn't go. So we're forced to go into a stake. We have no choice."

Royally Chosen is the starting highweight under 118 pounds in the Santa Lucia. A 6-year-old California-bred mare by In Excess, Royally Chosen won the California Cup Matron Handicap in November and was disqualified to second after finishing first by a nose in the Kalookan Queen Handicap Dec. 31.

$75,000 Santa Lucia Handicap, fillies & mares 4 &up, 1 1/16 mile
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight
1. Chasethegold, Corey Nakatani, 113
2. Pesci, Mike Smith, 114
3. Royally Chosen, Alex Solis, 118
4. Smart Lacy, Javier Santiago, 114
5. Hope Rises, David Flores, 115
6. Potra Fabulous, Kent Desormeaux, 115
7. Summer Wind Dancer, Victor Espinoza, 116