Spain returns to competition Sunday.

Spain returns to competition Sunday.

Spain Expected to Run in El Encino

From Santa Anita Park
The Thoroughbred Corp.'s Breeders' Cup Distaff champion Spain will be looking to add the second leg of the La Cañada series to her resume when the gate loads Sunday for the grade II, $150,000 El Encino Stakes, a 1 1/16-mile event for 4-year-old fillies. The La Cañada Series concludes Sunday, Feb. 11 with the $200,000 La Cañada Stakes.

Only two fillies have swept all three legs of the La Cañada Series – Taisez Vous in 1978 and Mitterand in 1985. Trained by Hall of Fame conditioner D. Wayne Lukas, Spain ran down Cover Gal and Serenita in the final furlong to take the first leg, the seven-furlong La Brea Stakes Dec. 30.

By Thunder Gulch out of Drina, the Kentucky homebred has won six of 19 career starts and earned $2,133,335. Incidentally, Lukas trained Lady's Secret to an El Encino win en route to Horse of the Year honors in 1986.

Trainer Dean Greenman will likely start Back Seat Babe against Spain in the hope of getting her stakes placed. The Kentucky-bred Back Seat Babe is by first-crop sire You and I out of Lovin Touch and is a half-sister to 2000 Breeders' Cup Juvenile champion Caressing. Back Seat Babe would be wheeling back in seven days, having finished second in a non-winners-of two allowance last Saturday.

"We'd like to get her stakes-placed," said Greenman. "We'll nominate to everything and if it comes up a short field, then we'll go."

Probable to the El Encino, with jockeys: Spain, Victor Espinoza; Queenie Belle, Brice Blanc, and Back Seat Babe, Laffit Pincay Jr. Possibles include: Excessively Hot, Jeweled Pirate, Ridjounda and Wafer.