FRAN’S VALENTINE ONE OF FIVE CALIFORNIA GOLD RUSH STAKES FOR HORSES BRED OR SIRED IN CALIFORNIA
ARCADIA, Calif. (May 25, 2016)–Fresh off a second place finish to three-time Eclipse Champion Beholder, trainer Phil D’Amato’s Sheer Pleasure heads a competitive field of eight California-bred or sired older fillies and mares in Saturday’s $125,000 Fran’s Valentine Stakes at one mile on turf.
Named for the late Earl Scheib’s homebred multiple graded stakes winning millionaire filly, the Fran’s Valentine was originally run at Hollywood Park in 1995 and will be run for the third consecutive year at Santa Anita on Saturday.
SHEER PLEASURE: Second, beaten 2 ½ lengths by three-time Eclipse Award Champion Beholder in the Grade III, 1 1/16 miles Adoration Stakes here May 8, this 4-year-old Birdonthewire filly takes what by any accounting, is a massive drop in class as she faces state-breds and transitions to turf. Owned by Little Red Feather Racing and R/M Racing, Sheer Pleasure pressed the early pace in the Adoration and made the lead midway, but was no match for Beholder in the final quarter mile. A two-time stakes winner versus state-breds last year, Sheer Pleasure has tried turf just once–as she ran a close fourth in the one mile California Oaks here in January, 2015. She is 12-4-3-0 overall with earnings of $403,030 and will be ridden for the third consecutive time by Martin Garcia.
SINGING KITTY: Fourth, beaten just three quarters of a length by Sheer Pleasure in the one mile (main track) Dream of Summer Stakes here on March 27, trainer Matt Chew’s Singing Kitty has two wins, a second and at third from five tries at one mile on turf and rates a big chance on Saturday with a stalking trip. A three-time stakes winner since being claimed for $32,000 in December, 2014, Singing Kitty has two one mile turf stakes wins to her credit. Owned by Aulds or Jeong, Singing Kitty, a 4-year-old daughter of Ministers Wild Cat, is 16-5-1-1 overall with earnings of $339,488.
VELVET MESQUITE: Although all six of her lifetime wins have come over Santa Anita’s 6 ½ furlong hillside turf course, this classy 6-year-old mare by In Excess was a game day scratch out of Saturday’s downhill Mizdirection Stakes, enabling her to face state-breds in her first-ever attempt around two turns on grass. Trained by Blake Heap, she’s owned by her breeder, Harris Farms, Inc., and is out of the Huddle Up mare, Mesquite. With Tyler Baze taking the riding assignment, it’s expected Velvet Mesquite will show plenty of speed on the stretch out. With an overall mark of 21-6-5-2, she has earnings of $459,446.
NITE DELITE: Trained by Art Sherman, this speedy 4-year-old daughter of War Chant opened up early and finished a tiring second in a one mile allowance at Los Alamitos on April 24, which was her first attempt at a route of ground. Owned by F. Jack Liebau, Nite Delite has three wins from 12 starts, with two of her victories coming on turf. With Stewart Elliott engaged to ride her back, it’s expected she’ll show the way early.
BERT’S MELODY: Trained by Sean McCarthy, this consistent 5-year-old mare by Bertrando was a solid first condition allowance winner going a mile on turf here Feb. 27, and she came back to run a big second in a second condition allowance at 1 1/8 miles on turf May 5. A perfect two for two going a mile on turf at Santa Anita, Bert’s Melody, who is owned by her breeder, Oakcrest Stable, should appreciate the cutback in distance. With three wins from 11 overall starts, she has earnings of $156,893.
THE $125,000 FRAN’S VALENTINE STAKES IN POST POSITION ORDER WITH JOCKEYS & WEIGHTS
Race 10 (of 11) Approximate post time 6:30 p.m. PDT
- Smoove It–Mario Gutierrez–120
- Nite Delite–Steward Elliott–120
- Sheer Pleasure–Martin Garcia–122
- Madame Mousse–Santiago Gonzalez–120
- Lily Kai–Drayden Van Dyke–120
- Bert’s Melody–Brice Blanc–120
- Velvet Mesquite–Tyler Baze–120
- Singing Kitty–Rafael Bejarano–120
First post time on Saturday is at 2 p.m. Admission gates will open at 11:30 a.m. For scratches, late changes and complete morning line information, please visit santaanita.com.