ARCADIA, Calif. (March 13, 2014)–Three-time Grade I winner Emollient, idle since running fourth, beaten one length in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf Nov. 2, heads a strong field of seven older fillies and mares in Sunday’s Grade II, $200,000 Santa Ana Stakes at Santa Anita going 1 1/8 miles on turf.
Trained by Bill Mott, the 4-year-old Empire Maker filly ships west from her base at Payson Park in South Florida and will again be ridden by Mike Smith, who has guided her to Grade I wins in last year’s Ashland Stakes at Keeneland April 6, the American Oaks at Hollywood Park on July 13, and in the Spinster Stakes at Keeneland Oct. 6.
Blessed with ample natural speed, Emollient has displayed a high degree of versatility, winning the Ashland gate to wire, stalking the early pace in the American Oaks, and rallying from dead last in an 11-horse field to take the Spinster. In her only appearance at Santa Anita, Emollient opened up 2 ½ lengths after the first half mile in the 1 ¼ miles Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf and fought back gamely in deep stretch.
Bred in Kentucky by her owner, Juddmonte Farms, she has earnings of $1,078,900 from an overall mark of 11-5-2-0.
Mott will also be represented by Pam and Martin Wygod’s homebred Floral Romance, who was third, beaten 2 ½ lengths, in the Grade III Endevour Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs last out Jan. 25. A 5-year-old After Market mare, she too ships in from Payson Park. All three of her career wins have come from off the pace and she’ll be ridden for the first time Gary Stevens in what will be her 10th career start.
Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s homebred Emotional Kitten, a close second to Emollient in the Grade I American Oaks and idle since winning the Grade II, 1 1/16 miles turf Mrs. Revere Stakes Nov. 16 at Churchill Downs, ships in from Gulfstream Park for trainer Wesley Ward and will be ridden by Victor Espinoza.
A 4-year-old Pennsylvania-bred by Kitten’s Joy, Emotional Kitten can sit mid-pack or run from well off the pace as she did in winning the Revere. She is 14-4-2-3 overall with earnings of $357,533.
Third, beaten only 1 ¼ lengths by Emollient three starts back in the American Oaks, trainer Neil Drysdale’s Topic has been idle since well beaten in Santa Anita’s Grade I Rodeo Drive Stakes Sept. 28. A winner two starts back of Del Mar’s 1 3/8 miles turf CTT & TOC Handicap, the 4-year-old filly by Discreet Cat is a dedicated deep closer who would appreciate a fast pace.
Lightly raced, Topic is owned by Alice Bamford and Anthony Speelman. She is winless from three tries on the Santa Anita turf and is 9-2-1-2 overall and will be ridden for the first time by Corey Nakatani.
A Group I winner in her native Argentina, Ron McAnally’s Miss Serendipity made the early running and tired late in the Grade II, one mile turf Buena Handicap Feb. 17, finishing fourth, beaten 2 ¼ lengths. Fourth in similar fashion in the 1 1/16 miles Paseana Stakes Jan. 12, she’ll be making her third stateside start in the Santa Ana.
A 6-year-old mare, Miss Serendipity is owned by her breeder, Anselmo E. Cavalieri and will be handled for the first time by Brice Blanc, who according to McAnally, will attempt to get the Argentine-bred to relax early on the stretch out.
Trainer Frank Lucarelli’s Stormy Lucy comes off an even fifth place run and was second, beat a nose, two back in the Grade III, 1 1/8 miles turf Robert J. Frankel Stakes Dec. 29. Owned by Erica Gaunt, the 5-year-old Stormy Atlantic mare gets a pivotal rider switch to leading man Rafael Bejarano and will try to rally from off the pace. She’s 20-5-2-3 overall with earnings of $272,200.
Trainer Beau Greely’s Nickels Wild pressured the pace in the Frankel two starts back Dec. 29, and finished fourth, beaten 2 ¼ lengths. The 4-year-old Sky Mesa filly made the lead turning for home in a 1 1/8 miles turf allowance Feb. 9, and finished second, beaten 1 ¼ lengths.
Owned by her breeder, Thomas L. Nichols, Nickels Wild is 10-1-3-2 overall and should be forwardly placed in the Santa Ana.
The complete field for the Santa Ana Stakes, to be run as the seventh race on a nine-race card Sunday, with jockeys and weights in post position order: Miss Serendipity, Brice Blanc, 120; Stormy Lucy, Rafael Bejarano, 118; Emotional Kitten, Victor Espinoza, 123; Topic, Corey Nakatani, 118; Nickels Wild, Martin Garcia, 118; Emollient, Mike Smith, 123, and Floral Romance, Gary Stevens, 118.
First post time on Sunday at Santa Anita is 12:30 p.m. Admission gates open at 10:30 a.m.