Sightseek is the lone speed in Sunday's $300,000 Santa Margarita Invitational Handicap (gr. I), which drew a small but stellar cast of six older fillies and mares at 1 1/8 miles at Santa Anita.The edge excites her jockey, Jose Valdivia Jr., who will be riding the 4-year-old daughter of Distant View for trainer Bobby Frankel for the first time. Valdivia is familiar with Sightseek's ability, since he has worked the winner of the Top Flight Handicap (gr. II) several times."They've got to run to beat her," Valdivia said. "I've been working her for about a month and a half and she's a very nice mare, a classy mare. I remember telling Bobby even before the first time she ran here that she's going to be one of the best mares in the country by the end of the year. "I'm really excited that he's giving me the shot on her and I'm looking forward to her running a huge race. Anything can happen (when the gates open), but I hope she gets a clean break and they have to come and catch me."Sightseek has a 4-3-0 record from seven starts, with earnings of $341,978 for the Juddmonte Farms, Inc.The Santa Margarita has an unusual distinction. Lady's Secret (1986), who died recently at 21 of foaling complications, and Azeri (last year) both won the race and later became Horse of the Year. They are the last two females to win the award.Got Koko would like to join them. She's already etched her name in Santa Anita history, becoming only the third horse to sweep the La Canada series – the La Brea (gr. 1), El Encino (gr. II) and La Canada (gr. II) stakes. She joined Taisez Vous (1978) and Mitterand (1985). But, Got Koko, a 4-year-old Texas-bred daughter of Signal Tap, might not even be favored in the 66th edition of the Santa Margarita.That's because she'll be facing, among others, Affluent, winner of the Santa Monica Handicap (gr. I) on Jan. 25, and Starrer, winner of two straight stakes including the Santa Maria Handicap (gr. I) on Feb. 16. Affluent and Starrer will each shoulder top weight of 121 pounds, while Got Koko was assigned 120.
Got Koko blew out three furlongs on Santa Anita's fast main track Thursday in :37.40. "She worked real easy, just galloped around there," trainer Bruce Headley said. "It's looking like this could be the best race for fillies and mares we've had here in a while. All three are coming off wins."As to what instructions Headley might give to jockey Alex Solis, the trainer's credo is "Silence is golden.""I never say a word to him," Headley said. $300,000 Santa Margarita Handicap (gr. I), fillies & mars 4 & up, 1 1/8 mile
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Got Koko (TX), 120, Alex O. Solis
2. Printemps (CHI), 116, David Romero Flores
3. Bella Bellucci (KY), 115, Gary L. Stevens
4. Sightseek (KY), 116, Jose Valdivia, Jr.
5. Starrer (KY), 121, Patrick A. Valenzuela
6. Affluent (KY), 121, Julie A. Krone