Saturday At Santa Anita
SATURDAY AT SANTA ANITA
Cal Nation highlights Inside Information undercard
Before attention is turned to the $150,000 Inside Information S. (G2) at Gulfstream Park on Saturday, a $55,600 entry-level allowance for three-year-olds will garner a share of the spotlight. Carded as the 3RD race, the one-turn mile features the WinStar homebred CAL NATION (Distorted Humor), a dazzling debut winner at Gulfstream on February 5.
While inexperience might ultimately preclude a shot at the classics, nothing is likely to be off the table should Cal Nation look the part Saturday. The Todd Pletcher trainee was highly regarded entering his seven-furlong debut, starting at 6-5 against eight rivals. Stalking a fast pace in second through a half-mile, Cal Nation moved to the front approaching the stretch and drew off under hand encouragement to win by 7 3/4 lengths in a time of 1:22.
With a dip in the recent fortunes of stablemate and fellow WinStar homebred Brethren (Distorted Humor), who finished third as the heavy favorite in last week's Tampa Bay Derby (G2), Cal Nation could enter the Kentucky Derby (G1) picture with a strong effort against five rivals and would have ample time to get in another race before the May 7 Run for the Roses.
Among those challenging Cal Nation are stablemate DANCE CITY (City Zip), a one-length maiden winner in January over 1 1/8 miles who runs for the estate of the late Ned Evans. Returning from a winter break is I'M STEPPIN' IT UP (Congrats), who finished third, beaten 14 1/2 lengths, behind Uncle Mo (Indian Charlie) in the Champagne S. (G1) in October, while BOWMAN'S CAUSEWAY (Giant's Causeway) takes a class drop after a rough-trip fourth in the Fountain of Youth S. (G2).
The seven-furlong Inside Information, the final major test for older filly and mare sprinters at the Gulfstream meet, features HILDA'S PASSION (Canadian Frontier), who rebounded from a neck loss in the Sugar Swirl S. (G3) to post a comfortable 2 1/2-length decision in last month's Hurricane Bertie S. (G3). The four-year-old's other stakes wins since August include the Raven Run S. (G2) at Keeneland and the Bennington S. at Saratoga.
Amen Hallelujah's last win came at Gulfstrea in the 2010 Davona Dale (Gus Gustafson/Horsephotos.com)
Multiple Grade 2 vixen AMEN HALLELUJAH (Montbrook) has dropped two straight at Gulfstream this winter after a long layoff, but showed signs of progress in the February 19 Sabin S. (G3) over a mile when finishing a clear second. The beaten favorite in her last three outings, long-time supporters should receive a more favorable price at the windows Saturday.
Former Canadian champion MILWAUKEE APPEAL (Milwaukee Brew) will make her 2011 debut in the Inside Information. Though winless in six starts last season, the five-year-old placed three times at the graded level in the Spinster S. (G1), Molly Pitcher S. (G2) and Shuvee H. (G2). Another looking for more than a minor share against graded foes is MS VANENZZA (Successful Appeal), who placed behind Hilda's Passion in both the Sugar Swirl and Hurricane Bertie.
Multiple Grade 1-placed BEAUTICIAN (Dehere) finally got off the stakes duck with a score in the Pan Zareta S. at Fair Grounds last time, while American Beauty S. winner STEPHANIE GOT EVEN (Stephen Got Even) makes her debut for trainer Marty Wolfson after being privately purchased following a second in the Spring Fever S. CHORAGUS (Harlan's Holiday), who captured the Wayward Lass S. at Tampa Bay Downs last time, completes the field.
Eclair de Lune will look to rebound in Santa Ana
Unplaced twice since giving owner Richard Duchossois an emotional win in the Beverly D. S. (G1) at Arlington Park last summer, ECLAIR DE LUNE (Ger) (Marchand de Sable) will seek to find the winner's circle again in Saturday's $150,000 Santa Ana S. (G1) over nine furlongs on the turf. The Santa Ana serves as a final prep for next month's Santa Barbara S. (G2) over 1 1/4 miles.
The Beverly D., named after Duchossois' late wife, has so far been the only victory in six U.S. appearances for Eclair de Lune, who is trained by Ron McAnally. Her 1 1/2-length score in the Beverly D. was preceded by a second in the Modesty H. (G3), but she's finished unplaced every other time including three trips over Santa Anita's turf.
Following the Beverly D., Eclair de Lune was sixth by two lengths in the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1), but after an extended break she could only finish fourth as the even-money choice in the January 23 Megahertz S. at one mile. Back at a presumably more favorable distance, Eclair de Lune will be piloted in the Santa Ana by Chantal Sutherland.
Four fillies and mares who contested the Buena Vista H. (G2) on Presidents Day are in the Santa Ana field. MALIBU PIER (Malibu Moon) fared the best of the quartet, finishing third by 1 1/4 lengths, and seeks her first victory since taking her first two career starts last summer.
TURNING TOP (Ire) (Pivotal) should improve off her sixth in the Buena Vista, where she fell far behind early. Usually much closer to the pace, Turning Top has the back class to compete after a win in last year's Beverly Hills H. (G3) and placings in the Yellow Ribbon S. (G1) and Las Palmas H. (G2).
IT TIZ (Tiznow) and LILLY FA POOTZ (Gilded Time), one-two in the Megahertz two back, each regressed in the Buena Vista. It Tiz failed to make any type of rally after hopping and bobbling at the start. Grade 2-placed Lilly Fa Pootz, meanwhile, was still second a furlong out but her bid was repelled rather quickly by eventual runner-up Briecat (Adcat).
Also among the field is Bayakoa H. (G2) winner WASHINGTON BRIDGE (Yankee Gentleman), unplaced in two prior turf outings, and Group 3-placed BLUE MAIDEN (GB) (Medicean), second in a downhill turf sprint allowance in her seasonal bow.
The $100,000 Irish O'Brien S., an about 6 1/2-furlong dash down the hillside turf course, has attracted nine California-bred or -sired fillies and mares.
Grade 2-placed stakes winner STRAWBERRY TART (Atticus), sidelined since last May and a starter only once since October 2009, faltered in her only other attempt over the course and distance and might be at a fitness disadvantage. QUISISANA (Decarchy), the 2010 Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Sprint winner, seeks her first turf win after garnering small checks in the Kalookan Queen H. and Santa Monica S. (G1) on dirt this meet.
Possibly of more interest are multiple stakes winner LA NEZ (Storm Creek) and recent course-and-distance allowance winners WEST RULER (Tribal Rule) and SAANNEEN (Cee's Tizzy).
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