Seven 3-year-old fillies will attempt to spoil the 2013 debut of last year's juvenile filly sensation Beholder in the $150,000 Santa Ynez Stakes (gr. II) Jan. 21 at Santa Anita Park.
The Martin Luther King Jr. Day feature will be a tremendous challenge for Beholder's opponents, none of which have more than a maiden victory. The race is the seventh on the Monday card with a 3:36 p.m. PST scheduled post.
Beholder, the flashy Grey Goose Breeders' Cup Juvenile Filly (gr. I) winner at Santa Anita Nov. 2, has been working solidly for her first start since then. She also drew well for the 6 1/2-furlong test and will start from the far outside.
Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella says Beholder, who had an unrecorded workout on Santa Anita's fast main track Jan. 17, is primed to run.
"I let her breeze a very slow half-mile just to let her do a little something," Mandella said. "She couldn't be better."
Beholder, owned by Spendthrift Farm, is favored to be named champion for her exploits as a 2-year-old last year by the time she takes the track for the Santa Ynez. The 2012 Eclipse Awards are to be announced Jan. 19.
The last time Beholder sprinted, she wired a first-level allowance field by 11 lengths as a 3-5 favorite at Santa Anita while completing six furlongs in 1:09 flat. In her next start, the daughter of Henny Hughes took the field gate to wire in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies in her two-turn debut at 1 1/16 miles, holding off favored Executiveprivilege by one length.
The speedy filly returned to the track a little more than a month later to begin training for her 3-year-old campaign. She has turned it up a notch in her three most recent drills, including a five-furlong bullet move in :58 4/5 Jan. 4. She went six panels in 1:13 Jan. 11.
During her 2-year-old campaign, Beholder won three of five starts, missing the Del Mar Debutante (gr. I) by a nose when second to Executiveprivilege last summer. She has earned $1,215,000.
"She's progressed all the time," said Garrett Gomez, who has ridden the bay filly in all of her races. "She's never really done anything wrong, although she might have been a little bit speed-crazy. We've been working with her and Richard's been doing a great job with her. We'll see how she acts when she runs Monday."
Beholder is out of the Tricky Creek mare Leslie's Lady and was bred in Kentucky by Clarkland Farm. She is a half sister to grade I winner and hot first-crop sire Into Mischief .
Trainer Bob Baffert entered Peachtree Stable's Lady Rosamond, coming off a half-mile drilling :48 1/5 Jan. 16.
"My filly worked well the other day, and you can’t avoid Beholder forever," said the Hall of Fame conditioner.
Lady Rosamond has split a pair of nose decisions in her two most recent starts. She graduated Nov. 17 at Betfair Hollywood Park following her debut, a runner-up finish at Santa Anita a month earlier. In her most recent try Dec. 31, the Keyed Entry lass just missed after being bumped late in a game try as a 4-5 choice in a first-level allowance at Santa Anita.
Kona Stable's Switch to the Lead was bumped early in her last start, the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Sprint Preview Nov. 3, but managed to finish second anyway. It was her best effort in four starts since breaking her maiden at first asking at Del Mar July 29.
"She ran a good race that day and we got a chance to give her a break," said trainer Patrick Biancone of the Songandaprayer filly. "She's had some time and she's coming back. I know the Santa Ynez is a tough race, but we'll take a chance."
Michael House's Dawn's Charm, a daughter of Hard Spun , makes her first appearance since graduating by nearly 11 lengths at Hollywood Park Dec. 14 for trainer Jeff Bonde.
Other last-out maiden winners are Blushing Angel, one of two in the field trained by John Sadler, and Small Moves, from the Joshua Litt barn.
Sadler's other entrant, Imwiththeblonde, comes off a runner-up allowance finish after breaking her maiden by 4 1/4 lengths at Santa Anita in October.
Zillah Reddam's Renee's Titan, runner-up in the Sharp Cat Stakes at Hollywood, looks to bounce back from a sixth-place showing in the Hollywood Starlet (gr. I) Dec. 8.
$150,000 Santa Ynez Stakes (gr. II, Race 7, 3:36 p.m.), 3YO Fillies, 6 1/2 Furlongs
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Small Moves (KY), V Espinoza, 119, J M Litt
2. Blushing Angel (IL), J Talamo, 119, J W Sadler
3. Dawn's Charm (KY), E A Maldonado, 119, J Bonde
4. Lady Rosamond (FL), M Garcia, 119, B Baffert
5. Imwiththeblonde (FL), J J Hernandez, 119, J W Sadler
6. Renee's Titan (KY), T Baze, 119, D F O'Neill
7. Switch to the Lead (KY), J R Leparoux, 119, P L Biancone
8. Beholder (KY), G K Gomez, 123, R E Mandella