Printemps is trainer Ron McAnally's entry in the $300,000 Santa Margarita Invitational Handicap (gr. I) for fillies and mares on Sunday at Santa Anita. McAnally-trained horses have won the race a record six times -- compare that to two apiece for D. Wayne Lukas and Charlie Whittingham, and one for Bobby Frankel.
Chilean-bred Printemps may not be favored in the race, but McAnally's history of success in the race is undeniable: he trained two-time winners Paseana and Bayakoa, Queens Court (1995), and longshot Toda Una Dama (1998).
A champion in Chile, Printemps has adjusted to American racing fairly well, winning two of five starts including the grade two Hawthorne Handicap last May.
In the Santa Maria Handicap on Feb. 17, Printemps fell far behind early before making a powerful final push to finish third. The Santa Maria was 1 1/16 miles, and the Santa Margarita is 1 1/8 miles.
"Coming from way out of it is her style," McAnally said of the mare, who will be ridden by Chris McCarron at 116 pounds. "The extra sixteenth (of a mile) won't hurt her any."
Spain, who finished fourth after being favored to win the Santa Maria, carries Victor Espinoza at a high weight of 118 pounds
The Thoroughbred Corp.'s Spain hasn't won a race in over a year. Spain's current nine-race losing streak began in last year's Santa Margarita, in which she finished a half-length behind Lazy Slusan. The last victory for the Lukas-trained daughter of Thunder Gulch came in the La Canada Stakes (gr. II) last February.
"She's been in and out recently, but she usually shows up on the biggest days, and I'm hoping that'll be the case (Sunday)," said Lukas.
Spain has raced twice this year in pursuit of Serena's Song's career money winning record for a filly or mare, Santa Monica Handicap (gr. I) and fourth in the Santa Maria (gr. I) while earning $36,000.
Lukas, though, isn't worried about the earnings mark, which Spain would be short of even if she wins.
"It's not that important to me, I've already trained the all-time money leader," Lukas explained, referring to Serena's Song. "But it's something for the Thoroughbred Corp. to be able to list on their resume. It's important to her value as a broodmare -- when you go to list a foal, it would be of great importance to be able to say that (Spain) was the leading money earner of all time."
The field for the Santa Margarita Handicap -- from the rail out, with jockeys and weights, will consist of:
1--Azeri, Mike Smith, 115
2--(E)Minor Details, Laffit Pincay Jr., 113
3--Printemps, Chris McCarron, 116
4--(E)Favorite Funtime, Gary Stevens, 117
5--Verruma, Corey Nakatani, 114
6--Spain, Victor Espinoza, 118
7--Tropical Lady, Alex Solis, 113
8--Alexine, Brice Blanc, 115(E)--Denotes Golden Eagle Farm entry.