That trio takes on the recent grade I winner Double Trouble, trained by Bobby Frankel, in the Santa Barbara. The 10-furlong grass event for older fillies and mares drew a field of 11. Significantly, the line-up does not include the Frankel trainee Costume, who was all out to hold the Brazilian-bred Immortelle by a head in the 1 1/8-mile Santa Ana March 23.
In that contest, Immortelle, hemmed in during the deep stretch by a drifting Costume on the inside and Lavender Sky to her outside, took the worst of it and had to settle for second at odds of 11-1. Lavender Sky, the 2-1 favorite in the Santa Ana, finished a head behind the runner-up, with Foxysox, who looked like she was in position to win with a late rail bid, another head behind in fourth.
David Flores, who rode Immortelle, claimed foul against Garrett Gomez, the crafty pilot of Costume, but it was disallowed. Joel Rosario will ride Immortelle in the Santa Barbara and they will break from post 2.
Trained by Paulo Lobo for T N T Stud, the 5-year-old mare won the Brazilian Oaks in her final South American start last May and now has two close second-place finishes in her only U.S. starts.
With three grade II placings since mid-December, Lavender Sky seems ready to break through with a victory once more for trainer Dan Hendricks. The stalking 4-year-old daughter of Mt. Livermore won a 1 1/4-mile allowance race prior to the Santa Ana. She'll have her regular rider in Alex Solis back and they'll break from the 8-hole.
Foxysox, trained by Carla Gaines for Warren B. Williamson, won the Bayakoa Handicap (gr. II) by a neck in December 2006 but has been winless in five starts since. The 5-year-old British-bred mare was out of action for nearly nine months after last year's Santa Ana and has been improving with each start since returning in December. Victor Espinoza retains the mount on Foxysox, who leads the field with $476,718 in earnings while capturing five of 19 lifetime starts.
Frankel is represented by the Brazilian-bred Double Trouble, who earned grade I winner status when she defeated three rivals in the 1 1/16-mile Santa Maria Handicap, finishing 4 1/2 lengths ahead of Tough Tiz's Sis Feb. 9. The 5-year-old Wild Event mare returned to run third, more than five lengths behind Nashoba's Key, in the five-horse Santa Margarita Handicap at nine furlongs March 9 for owner Patricia Bozzano.
The consistent Double Trouble, assigned top weight of 117 pounds in the Santa Barbara, has been in the money in 14 of 16 starts, winning seven times while producing $368,204 in earnings. Rafael Bejarano guides Double Trouble from post 1.
The closer Black Mamba will needs some pace in order to end the six-race losing skid she has endured since winning her U.S. debut in an allowance heat for trainer John Sadler last August at Del Mar. She has been second or third in all five of her graded stakes attempts in America.
Lemonette showed a big closing kick in her U.S. debut for trainer Tim Yakteen and owner Jerry Jamgotchian, rallying from eighth in a nine-furlong allowance test March 1 to miss by a half-length to Santa Barbara rival Forest Melody, saddled by Paula Capestro.
Persian Express (sixth), the Brazilian Colina Verde (seventh) and I Can See (eighth) also ran in the Santa Ana last time out.
Solva has not been out since finishing fifth in last year's Santa Barbara when backed at odds of 7-2 in her second U.S. start for trainer Ben Cecil.
The Santa Barbara is one of two important grade II grass events on the closing weekend of the 2007-08 Santa Anita season. The final program April 20 is highlighted by the $250,000 San Juan Capistrano Invitational Handicap at about 1 3/4 miles.
$200,000 Santa Barbara Handicap (gr. IIT, Race 9, 4:30 p.m.), Fillies & Mares 4 & up, 1 1/4 MIles (Turf)
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Double Trouble (BRZ), Rafael Bejarano
2. Immortelle (BRZ), 115, Joel Rosario
3. Black Mamba (NZ), 115, Jose Valdivia, Jr.
4. Forest Melody (KY), 112, Tyler Baze
5. Foxysox (GB), 116, Victor Espinoza
6. Lemonette (KY), 112, Joseph Talamo
7. Colina Verde (BRZ), 115, Brice Blanc
8. Lavender Sky (KY), 116, Alex O. Solis
9. Solva (GB), 115, Aaron T. Gryder
10. Persian Express (KY), 114, Richard Migliore
11. I Can See (KY), 112, Jon K. Court