COMEBACKING AWESOME BABY HORSE TO BEAT AT SEVEN FURLONGS IN THE GRADE I, $300,000 LA BREA STAKES ON OPENING DAY; BAFFERT TRAINEE SEEKS FOURTH WIN IN-A-ROW WITH SMITH AGAIN ENGAGED TO RIDE

 

GRADED WINNERS TARIS, STONETASTIC, JOJO WARRIOR & THANK YOU MARYLOU, ALONG WITH SHARP FILLIES AMARANTH, RAMONA’S WILDCAT, SAM’S SISTER & MORE COMPLEXITY LEND CONSIDERABLE DEPTH TO TEN-HORSE FIELD, WHICH IS ONE OF THREE GRADED STAKES ON NINE-RACE CARD

 

                ARCADIA, Calif. (Dec. 21, 2014)–A two-time graded stakes winner earlier this year at Santa Anita, Kaleem Shah’s Awesome Baby, idle since winning the Sunland Park Oaks on March 23, heads a deep and competitive group of ten 3-year-old fillies in the Grade I, $300,000 La Brea Stakes at seven furlongs on Santa Anita’s Winter Meet opening day, Friday.

Trained by Bob Baffert, Awesome Baby took the 6 ½ furlong Grade II Santa Ynez on Jan. 4 and came back to win the Grade III Santa Ysabel at 1 1/16 miles on March 1, en route to her win at Sunland Park March 23. A Kentucky-bred daughter of Awesome Again, she disappointed as the even money favorite in her only try at seven furlongs, finishing a well beaten seventh on Aug. 31, 2013.

A winner of four of her six starts, Awesome Baby will again be accompanied by Mike Smith as she seeks her fourth win in-a-row. She has earnings of $354,250.

Baffert will also be capably represented by talented Jojo Warrior, who is also a two-time graded stakes winner this year. Bred by Zayat Stables, LLC, and owned by Zayat Stables and WinStar Farm, LLC, this daughter of Pioneerof the Nile comes off a sharp third place finish to eventual Breeders’ Cup Distaff winner Untapable in the Grade I, 1 1/16 miles Cotillion Stakes at Parx Racing (Philadelphia, Pa.) on Sept. 20.

A winner of Del Mar’s Grade III Torrey Pines Stakes Aug. 31 and the Grade II Summertime Oaks at Santa Anita June 21, Jojo Warrior is 7-3-1-2 with earnings of $371,981. She drew the outside post and will be ridden for the fourth consecutive time by Martin Garcia.

Here’s a look at some of the La Brea contention:

Taris–Trained now by Simon Callaghan, she comes off a scintillating nine-length score in the Grade II, seven furlong Raven Run Stakes at Keeneland, in which she earned a La Brea-best last-out Beyer Speed figure of 110. A 7 ¾ length allowance winner going six furlongs over a synthetic surface at Presque Isle Downs on Sept. 10, this daughter of the A.P. Indy stallion Flatter has won four of her five starts and is in search of her third consecutive victory. She’ll break from the rail and gets the services of top rider Rafael Bejarano.

Stonetastic–Trained by Kelly Breen, this grey filly by Mizzen Mast was runaway eight length winner of the Grade II Prioress Stakes three starts back at Saratoga on Aug. 30 and has been idle since making the early lead and finishing a close fourth in the Grade I, seven furlong Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint on Nov. 1. With a record of 9-3-1-3 and earnings of $379,121, she’ll be handled by regular rider Paco Lopez and figures to be well supported in the betting. (She has been in training at Palm Meadows in South Florida since the Breeders’ Cup).

Thank You Marylou–Trained by Mike Maker, this well-accomplished Virginia-bred daughter of Birdstone comes off a solid third in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint at odds of 39-1. A 6 ½ length winner three starts back of the Grade II, seven furlong Dogwood Stakes at Churchill Downs, she has two wins and a pair of thirds from five tries at seven furlongs. Owned by Ken and Sarah Ramsey and with Joel Rosario engaged to ride for the first time, she boasts an overall mark of 10-3-1-3 and has earnings of $400,457.

Amaranth–Under clever handling from Dennis Carr, she was a gutty half length winner of the   6 ½ furlong Senator Ken Maddy Stakes, which was shifted from turf to dirt here on Nov. 1 and consequently, lost its Grade III standing. Trained by O.J. Jauregui, this Kentucky-bred filly by Mr. Greely has remained at her Golden Gate Fields base following the Maddy win and she’ll be shooting for her fifth win in 10 career starts.

Ramona’s Wildcat–A Louisiana-bred filly trained by Doug O’Neill, this daughter of Wildcat Heir won her first two starts at Sunland Park by a combined 18 lengths and was subsequently purchased privately. A close sixth in her last start, a five furlong allowance at Del Mar on Nov. 21, Ramona’s Wildcat will be making her sixth career start and be ridden for the first time by top apprentice Drayden Van Dyke.

Sam’s Sister–Trained and owned in-part by Jerry Hollendorfer, this lightly raced Kentucky-bred filly by 2006 Santa Anita Derby winner Brother Derek won her first three starts and tasted defeat for the first time in her most recent out–an eighth place finish in a five furlong turf allowance at Del Mar on Nov. 21. A game second condition allowance winner going seven furlongs two starts back, she’ll again be ridden by Elvis Trujillo.

More Complexity–Although she’ll try graded company for only the second time, this California-bred daughter of Square Eddie has won her last two in-a-row, her most recent coming in the state-bred Betty Grable Stakes going seven furlongs on Polytrack at Del Mar on Nov. 9. Trained by Edward Freeman, she’s owned by her breeder, J. Paul Reddam and seeks her fifth win from 11 starts.

Uzziel–Trained by Mike Puype, this California-bred daughter of Harlington made the lead and tired to finish a close sixth in a seven furlong classified allowance at Del Mar on Nov. 28. A winner of the 6 ½ furlong Santa Paula Stakes five starts back on April 11, she also won the 6 ½ furlong Beverly J. Lewis Stakes at Los Alamitos three back on Sept. 6. She has four wins from 10 starts and will be handled by Tyler Baze, who has guided her to a pair of wins in her last five starts.

                With all horses assigned 118 pounds, here’s the complete field for the La Brea Stakes, to be run as the sixth race on a nine-race card Friday, with jockeys in post position order: Taris, Rafael Bejarano; Uzziel, Tyler Baze; Thank You Marylou, Joel Rosario; Awesome Baby, Mike Smith; Ramona’s Wildcat, Drayden Van Dyke; More Complexity, Mario Gutierrez; Stonetastic, Paco Lopez; Amaranth, Dennis Carr; Sam’s Sister, Elvis Trujillo; and Jojo Warrior, Martin Garcia.

                Special early first post time on Friday is at 12 noon. Admission gates open at 10 a.m.