Juddmonte Farms' Sightseek makes her grade I debut Saturday in the $200,000 seven furlong Santa Monica Handicap at Santa Anita. The furor over the Sunshine Millions needen't distract from the Santa Monica, which has come up an intriguing contest.
Sightseek, conditioned by Bobby Frankel, has won all but one of her five starts, including the Raven Run (gr. III) and the Top Flight (gr. II) in her last pair of starts. Her only defeat came when Frankel experimented with her on the grass at Saratoga. Jerry Bailey journeys west for the mount. Sightseek, making her first start as a 4-year-old, figures to be one tough customer in the Distaff division this year, particularly with the uncertain future of reigning champ Azeri.
But Sightseek will have to contend with the tough Affluent, the 5-year-old mare who spent most of 2002 chasing Azeri around the country and the track. Affluent, owned by Janis Whitham and conditioned by Ron McAnally, has earned better than $1.3 million lifetime and possesses a ton of back class. She comes into the Santa Monica off a pair of fifth-place finishes in the Matriarch (gr. IT) and the WinStar Galaxy (gr. IIT). She has won three of her seven trips across the Santa Anita dirt.
Bob Baffert sends Whoopddoo out to battle the top pair. The daughter of Jade Hunter enters off a daylight victory in an optional claiming event at Hollywood Park last month. She hit the board in the Hollywood Starlet (gr. I) two years ago, and has been running in allowance and optional claiming company since. She will have to step up to challenge the top pair. She is owned by Diane Garber.
Kitty on the Track has hit the board in all of her seven lifetime starts. The lightly raced 6-year-old returned to the track three weeks ago after an 18-month hiatus and finished third in the Survive Stakes for California-breds after having trouble at the start. Clifford Sise trains.
The field for the Santa Monica, in post position order with jockeys and weights:
1) Kitty on the Track (Laffit Pincay Jr., 113)
2) Reine des Neiges (David Flores, 108)
3) Secret of Mecca (Julie Krone, 110)
4) Affluent (Alex Solis, 119)
5) Sightseek (Jerry Bailey, 115)
6) Live Free or Die (Iggy Puglisi, 109)
7) Whoopddoo (Victor Espinoza, 112)