MANDELLA HOLDS POTENT THREE-CARD HAND IN AUTUMN MEET CLOSING DAY FEATURE
ARCADIA, Calif. (Oct. 22, 2015)–Irish-bred Spirit of Xian heads a wide open field of eight fillies and mares aged three and up in Sunday’s closing day feature at Santa Anita, the Grade III, $100,000 Senator Ken Maddy Stakes at 6 ½ furlongs down the track’s hillside turf course.
Trained by Richard Mandella, who saddles three Maddy contenders, Spirit of Xian comes off a close second down the hill to multiple stakes winning Singing Kitty in the Unzip Me Stakes Sept. 26 and was a solid third over the course in her U.S. debut in the Sweet Life Stakes, six starts back on Feb. 14.
A winner of the Grade III, 1 1/8 miles turf Providencia Stakes here on April 4, she’s enjoyed a productive year, earning $154,832 while posting a 2015 mark of 6-1-1-2 for owner Ben Keswick. A 3-year-old filly by the Danehill stallion Kodiac, she’ll likely stalk the early pace with regular rider Joe Talamo up in her first try against older competition. With $189,504 in career earnings, she has an overall record of 14-3-1-3.
Mandella will also be represented by Baruta, a 6-year-old Brazilian-bred mare who bombed as the 8-5 favorite in the restricted CERF Stakes going six furlongs at Del Mar on Sept. 6. Second two starts back in the Grade III, 6 ½ furlong Rancho Bernardo Handicap on Aug. 16, she has run well down the hillside, compiling a 6-1-3-1 mark that includes a second condition allowance win over the course four starts back on June 11.
Owned by her breeder, Rio Dois Irmaos, LLC, she was ridden in her last five starts by the now-injured Flavien Prat and will be handled for the first time on Saturday by leading man Rafael Bejarano.
The third card in Mandella’s closing day hand is another Brazilian-bred, invader Off the Road, a Group I winner in Brazil who last started there on Jan. 20. A maiden winner going seven furlongs over a heavy main track in her second career start in April, 2014, she defeated 15 rivals in winning a Group I going a mile over a soft turf 13 months ago. A 4-year-old filly, she is owned by Quick Road Stable and is 7-3-3-0 overall. She’ll make her U.S. debut with Mike Smith in the irons and looms a major question mark in this context.
Third, beaten a half length in a 6 ½ furlong turf stakes Sept. 14 at Kentucky Downs, Glen Hill Farm’s consistent Theatre Star would benefit from a fast pace with Drayden Van Dyke riding back for primary client, trainer Tom Proctor. A 5-year-old Kentucky-bred mare by War Front, Theatre Star is 15-5-3-2 overall with earnings of $231,405.
Although Baruta could likely be sent early, trainer O.J. Jauregui’s Amaranth, who won last year’s Maddy when it was moved to the main track, may prove the quickest of the quick in her first hillside assignment. A comfortable minor stakes winner going six furlongs at Stockton on Sept. 19, the 4-year-old Mr. Greeley filly gets the services of a red-hot Mario Gutierrez and will look to improve upon her overall mark of 15-6-1-1. Owned by Highland Yard, LLC, Amaranth has earnings of $274,596.
The complete field for the Senator Ken Maddy Stakes, to be run as the fifth race on a nine-race program Sunday, with jockeys in post position order, all horses assigned 119 pounds: Chati’s On Top, Santiago Gonzalez; Velvet Mesquite, Kent Desormeaux, 119; Kool Kat, James Graham; Amaranth, Mario Gutierrez; Spirit of Xian, Joe Talamo; Baruta, Rafael Bejarano; Theatre Star, Drayden Van Dyke, and Off the Road, Mike Smith.
First post time on Santa Anita’s Autumn Meet closing day is at 1 p.m. Admission gates will open at 11 a.m.