It's the time of year to think outside the box a bit, and that's exactly why DP Racing's Prize Exhibit is trying the dirt for the first time in the $200,000 Santa Monica Stakes (gr. II) Jan. 23 at Santa Anita Park.
Without a high-level turf race for older fillies and mares on the Southern California schedule until the Feb. 20 Buena Vista Stakes (gr. IIT) trainer Jim Cassidy saw an opportunity either find a new dimension for the three-time graded winner or cross something off the list.
"We're looking forward for the end of the year and looking to maybe dismiss some of our options," Cassidy said of the 4-year-old daughter of Showcasing, who has a 6-2-2 record from 20 starts (19 on turf, one on synthetic), including a score last time out in the Monrovia (gr. IIIT), and 2015 victories in the Senorita (gr. IIIT) and San Clemente (gr. IIT). "She trains well over it, but that doesn't necessarily mean anything."
Outside of the surface switch, the seven-furlong Santa Monica distance figures to suit Prize Exhibit. Since relocating to the U.S. in 2014, three of her four wins have been at a mile on grass, then she dialed back for a sprint score in the Jan. 3 Monrovia down the Santa Anita hillside turf course.
BALAN: Prize Exhibit Rides Rail to Take Monrovia
Cassidy was also encouraged, in a sense, by the way the notoriously hard-to-handle filly came out of the Monrovia.
"She gets pretty full over herself and the Monrovia didn't seem to (take much out of her)," the trainer said. "Most of the time, she'll be tired after a race, but she was fine afterward. Usually we get a day off, but we didn't get a day off this time."
Other graded winners in the nine-horse field are Doubledown Stables' Ben's Duchess, who closed to win the L.A. Woman Stakes (gr. II) two starts back then ran fourth in the La Brea (gr. I) Dec. 26, and HnR Nothhaft Horse Racing's synthetics specialist Living The Life, back-to-back winner of the Presque Isle Downs Masters Stakes (gr. II).
BOSSERT: Living The Life Repeats in PID Masters Santa Anita Park, Saturday, January 23, 2016, Race 8
Living The Life showed signs of improvement in her last start on dirt, when she ran second to Fantastic Style in the Great Lady M Stakes (gr. II) at Los Alamitos Race Course in July.
PP Horse Jockey Wgt Trainer M/L 1 1Prize Exhibit (GB) Santiago Gonzalez 123 James M. Cassidy 4/1 2 2Ben's Duchess (KY) Joseph Talamo 118 John W. Sadler 5/2 3 3Kiss At Midnight (CA) Gary L. Stevens 118 Richard Baltas 12/1 4 4Lost Bus (CA) Fernando Hernandez Perez 118 Gary Sherlock 20/1 5 5Tara's Tango (KY) Mike E. Smith 118 Jerry Hollendorfer 6/1 6 6Room for Me (KY) Martin Garcia 118 David Jacobson 3/1 7 7Living The Life (IRE) Flavien Prat 123 Gary Mandella 6/1 8 8Kyriaki (KY) Mario Gutierrez 118 Peter Eurton 12/1 9 9Finest City (PA) Corey S. Nakatani 118 Ian Kruljac 10/1
Santa Anita Park, Saturday, January 23, 2016, Race 8