ARCADIA, Calif. (Dec. 21, 2015)–Saturday’s Opening Day Grade I La Brea Stakes, which has attracted a field of ten 3-year-old fillies at seven furlongs, looms a wide open affair as it’s comprised of five locally-based runners and as many well-accomplished Eastern shippers. First run at Santa Anita in 1974, this year’s lineup includes no less than five graded stakes winners.
Idle since winning the Grade III LA Woman Stakes at 6 ½ furlongs, trainer John Sadler’s Ben’s Duchess, a Kentucky-bred daughter of Munnings, is at the top of her game, having earned a career-high 100 Beyer Speed figure. Owned by Doubledown Stables, Inc., she’ll again be handled by Joe Talamo.
Trainer Phil D’Amato’s Rattataptap cuts back in distance off a smashing 4 ½ length allowance score on Nov. 21 at Del Mar and will be bidding for her first graded stakes victory. A grey daughter of Tapit, she’s owned by Mark DeDomenico, Jerry Durant, LLC, and Michael House.
A winner of the prestigious Grade I Test Stakes going seven furlongs on Aug. 8 at Saratoga, trainer Kiaran McLaughlin’s Cavorting has three graded stakes wins to her credit and looms the horse to beat in the La Brea. A winner of five of eight starts, the Kentucky-bred filly by Bernardini is by far the leading money earner in the field with $902,000 on deposit.
Idle since running fourth, beaten 4 ¾ lengths in the Grade I, seven furlong Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint at Keeneland Oct. 31, Cavorting will retain the services of Irad Ortiz Jr., who has ridden her in all of her eight previous races.
An 8 ¼ length winner of the seven furlong Safely Kept Stakes on Nov. 14 at Laurel, trainer Linda Rice’s Hot City Girl was a handy 2 ½ length winner of the Grade III Charles Town Oaks going seven furlongs on Sept. 19 and enters the La Brea on the heels of a three-game winning streak for Lady Sheila Stable. A New York-bred daughter of City Zip, she has two wins and a second from four starts at seven furlongs.
Trainer Dale Romans’ Birdatthewire, who is winless in three starts since taking the Grade II, 1 1/16 miles Gulfstream Park Oaks on March 28, is undefeated in her lone try at the La Brea distance, as she annexed Gulfstream’s Grade II Forward Gal Stakes on Jan. 24. A Kentucky-bred filly by Summer Bird, she’s owned by Forum Racing IV.
Third, beaten three quarters of a length in the Grade I Starlet Stakes at Los Alamitos a year ago, Bob Baffert’s Maybellene has been idle since running second, beaten a neck (and subsequently placed first via DQ) in the 1 1/16 miles Sunland Park Oaks March 22. Owned by his wife, Natalie, Maybellene is well-seasoned, with an overall mark of 10-3-1-2.
The complete field for the Grade I La Brea, to be run as the seventh race on a nine-race card Saturday, with jockeys and weights in post position order: Birdatthewire, Mike Smith, 120; Hot City Girl, Jose Ortiz, 118; Cavorting, Irad Ortiz, Jr., 123; Maybellene, Rafael Bejarano, 118; Lily Pod, Mario Gutierrez, 118; Ben’s Duchess, Joe Talamo, 118; Rattataptap, Tyler Baze, 118; Pleasant Tales, James Graham, 118; Moyo Honey, Drayden Van Dyke, 118, and Finest City, Gary Stevens, 118.
First post time on Opening Day is at 12 noon. Admission gates open at 10 a.m.