(from Santa Anita notes)
A day after entering Eclipse champion female sprinter Indian Blessing in the $300,000 Santa Monica Handicap (gr. I) at Santa Anita, trainer Bob Baffert said the 4-year-old filly would not participate in an anticipated rematch with Ventura after all.
“We’re not going to run,” the trainer said Jan. 29. “I want to freshen her up. We’re pointing for Dubai.” Baffert said the goal is the $2 million Golden Shaheen (UAE-I) on March 28.
“I’m glad Indian Blessing’s not running. I’m not looking for tough competition,” said Bobby Frankel, trainer of Ventura, who defeated Indian Blessing by four lengths in the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint at Santa Anita Oct. 24. Frankel also entered Jibboom, a stakes winner on turf and synthetic, in the seven-furlong Santa Monica.
Ventura, the 5-year-old Chester House mare owned and bred by the Juddmonte Farms, has not raced since her breathtaking win in the Breeders’ Cup race at Oak Tree.
Asked if she was “cranked” for her return, Frankel said, “She’s cranked enough to win.” Two-time Eclipse Award-winning jockey Garrett Gomez has the mount. He has ridden Ventura in each of her seven U.S. starts, four of them victories. Ventura was assigned top weight of 123 pounds, one more than Indian Blessing.
Indian Blessing's defection was also greeted as good news by Peter Eurton, who is seeking a grade I placing for She's Cheeky. The 4-year-old filly is making her stakes debut after three consecutive victories.
“Is that a for sure? You’re not just pulling my leg or trying to make my day,” Eurton said when told Indian Blessing would not run.
“I’m very happy to hear that,” Eurton continued, “because with Indian Blessing and Ventura in there, everyone else was running for third, at best. But I’m not going to try and steal it. We’ll just let her run her race. She does better when she has a little target. She has a good turn of foot, so if she’s up close, it won’t matter who’s in front of her, unless they’re better than her.”