FIVE OUT OF THE 10 RUNNERS COME OFF STAKES WINNING EFFORTS IN WIDE OPEN AFFAIR
ARCADIA, Calif. (Feb. 14, 2014)–In what shapes up as one of the most competitive races of the meet, Grade I winner Egg Drop heads a talent-laden cast of 10 older fillies and mares in Monday’s Grade II, $200,000 Buena Vista Stakes at one mile on turf. Idle since winning the Grade I, mile turf Matriarch at Hollywood Park Dec. 1, Egg Drop is in search of her fourth consecutive graded stakes win and she’ll be facing four other distaffers who come off stakes scores in their most recent starts.
A winner of the Grade II, one mile turf Goldikova Stakes at Santa Anita two starts back on Nov. 3, Egg Drop ran the race of her career in the Matriarch, winning gate to wire while earning an impressive Beyer Speed figure of 97. Trained by Mike Mitchell and owned by Little Red Feather Racing, Egg Drop, a 5-year-old Florida-bred mare by Alphabet Soup, has six wins from 12 starts and earnings of $494,020.
Egg Drop will break from post two and will have to deal with an abundance of speed drawn to her outside, most notably Pontchatrain, who has won her last three starts, all of them at 6 ½ furlongs down Santa Anita’s hillside turf course.
Trained by Tom Proctor and owned by Glen Hill Farm, Pontchatrain sat close to the early pace in the Grade II Monrovia Stakes Jan. 5 and won by three quarters of a length under confident handling from Gary Stevens as the even money favorite.
Although she has sprinted in her last three races, Pontchatrain made the lead and ran a close fourth as the 2-1 favorite four starts back in the one mile turf Sandy Blue Stakes at Del Mar Aug. 16, and she went gate to wire in an impressive 3 ¼ length allowance win going one mile on turf July 28.
A 4-year-old filly by War Front, Pontchatrain has five wins from seven starts and earnings of $324,882.
Proctor will also saddle the highly regarded Customer Base, who cuts back in distance a furlong after a nose win in the Grade III, 1 1/8 miles turf Robert J. Frankel Stakes Dec. 29. A close third two starts back to Egg Drop in the Goldikova, Customer Base provides Proctor with a solid late threat in the Buena Vista.
A 5-year-old mare by Lemon Drop Kid, Customer Base is owned by Glen Hill Farm. Although winless from six tries at a mile on grass, she has three seconds and a third at the distance. Customer Base has five wins from 18 overall starts and earnings of $322,182.
Second, beaten a nose by Customer Base in the Frankel, Golden Gate Fields-based Stormy Lucy rates an upset chance for trainer Frank Lucarelli. A 5-year-old Stormy Atlantic mare owned by Erica Gaunt, Stormy Lucy is winless in three tries at a mile on grass and has five wins from 19 overall starts. Her most recent win came via a stalking trip three starts back in the Miss America Stakes at Golden Gate on Oct. 19.
Fifth at 7-2 in the Frankel, John Sadler’s English-bred Moone’s My Name was a gate to wire classified allowance winner going 1 1/16 miles on turf two starts back Dec. 5 and ran a solid third three back in the Grade III Wilshire Handicap at a mile on turf April 28. Owned by the Batchelor Family Trust, she has two wins, a second and four thirds at a mile on turf.
Off as the 2-1 favorite in the Paseana Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on dirt Jan. 12, Ron McAnally’s Argentine-bred Miss Serendipity will make her second stateside start in the Buena Vista. A Group I winner going 1 ¼ miles on turf in Argentina June 29, the 6-year-old mare gets the services of leading rider Rafael Bejarano. She’s owned by Matias Cavalieri.
Trainer Doug O’Neill’s Dancingtothestars pressed the pace and took the one mile turf Megahertz on Jan. 18 and figures to be up close again on Monday. A 6-year-old Good Journey mare bred in California by her owner, Ren-Mar Thoroughbreds, Inc., Dancingtothestars has two wins and a second from four tries at a mile on turf.
A two-time restricted stakes winner at a mile on grass last year at Hollywood Park, California-bred Unusual Hottie comes off a close fourth place run in the Sunshine Millions Filly & Mare Turf Sprint Jan. 25 with Bejarano. A 5-year-old mare by Unusual Heat, Unusual Hottie is trained by Jeff Mullins and is owned by her breeder, Ali Nilforushan.
The eastern-based trainer and jockey team of Bill Mott and John Velazquez, Jr., will team up with Tapicat, who comes off a half length stakes win going 7 ½ furlongs at Gulfstream on Jan. 1. An emphatic gate wire winner of the Grade III Florida Oaks at Tampa Bay Downs a year ago, she figures to be on the early engine in the Buena Vista. A 4-year-old filly by Tapit, Tapicat has two wins and a second at a mile on turf and has four wins from nine starts overall. She’s owned by Besilu Stables.
Irish-bred Appealing was second, beaten a head by Egg Drop three starts back in the Grade II Yellow Ribbon Handicap at Del Mar Sept. 2 and tired to finish eighth after setting the pace in the Frankel Stakes Dec. 29. Trained by Paddy Gallagher, the 5-year-old mare is owned by Yvonne Jacques. She has one win from three tries at a mile on turf.
The complete field for the Buena Vista Stakes, to be run as the seventh on a nine-race card Monday, with jockeys and weights in post position order: Miss Serendipity, Rafael Bejarano, 120; Egg Drop, Martin Garcia, 123; Appealing, Brice Blanc, 118; Tapicat, John Velazquez, 118; Moone’s My Name, Victor Espinoza, 118; Dancingtothestars, Mario Gutierrez, 118; Pontchatrain, Gary Stevens, 118; Unusual Hottie, Tyler Baze, 118; Stormy Lucy, Isaias Enriquez, 118, and Customer Base, Mike Smith, 118.
First post time on Monday is at 12:30 p.m. Admission gates will open at 10:30 a.m. Santa Anita will offer one dollar beers, sodas and hot dogs throughout the day.