COURSE SPECIALIST VELVET MESQUITE & UPSTART GLOBAL HOTTIE LEND DEPTH TO WIDE-OPEN FIELD OF 11 FILLIES & MARES
ARCADIA, Calif. (Oct. 8, 2014)–Graded stakes winner Tribal Spy, Comebacking Ciao Bella Luna and defending champ Qiaona figure prominently in Saturday’s $100,000 California Distaff Handicap, a wide-open affair that has attracted a field of 11 California-bred or sired fillies and mares at 6 ½ furlongs down Santa Anita’s hillside turf course.
Additionally, stakes winners Go West Marie and Warren’s Veneda, course specialist Velvet Mesquite and upstart Global Hottie all rate big chances in the 25th running of the Distaff–which was originally part of California Cup Day at Santa Anita.
A winner of the Grade III Las Cienegas Stakes down the hill three starts back on April 12, Tribal Spy, who has three wins, a second and a third coming down the hill, may rate top billing for trainer Adam Kitchingman. Ridden in her last three starts by leading man Joe Talamo, she comes off a fourth place finish on synthetic Polytrack Aug. 8 as the 8-5 favorite.
A 4-year-old filly by Tribal Rule, Tribal Spy is owned by Triple B Farms. High-weighted at 123 pounds, she is 17-6-3-1 overall with earnings of $311,924 and will again be handled by Talamo.
Idle since running a close fifth to Tribal Spy in the Las Cienegas, the Peter Miller-trained Ciao Bella Luna won the Sunshine Millions Filly & Mare Turf Sprint over the course three starts back on Jan. 25 and is 4-1-1-0 over the course lifetime. A 4-year-old filly by Tribal Rule, she has had five consecutive works on Santa Anita’s six furlong training track, her most recent a half mile in 48.20 on Oct. 6.
Owned by Rockingham Ranch, Ciao Bella Luna has four wins and three seconds from 14 overall starts and has earnings of $284,110.
Winless in five starts since winning the 2013 Distaff a year ago, trainer Ed Moger’s Qiaona comes off a second place finish in the one mile turf Solana Beach Handicap at Del Mar on Aug. 17 and could be on the move late under Rafael Bejarano.
Owned by Curt and Lila Lanning, the 4-year-old filly by Wilko has a win and a third from three tries down the hill. She is 20-4-5-3 overall, with earnings of $486,959.
A winner of the seven furlong Fleet Treat Stakes on Polytrack two starts back July 26, trainer Eddie Truman’s Go West Marie was a fast-finishing third to Velvet Mesquite in her only hillside try three starts back on June 20. Ridden by the recently injured Kent Desormeaux in her last three starts, she comes off a troubled third in the six furlong (Polytrack) CERF Stakes on Sept. 3.
Owned by Peter Redekop, B.C., Ltd., Go West Marie is a 3-year-old filly by Western Fame. With Desormeaux unavailable, she’ll be ridden for the first time by Martin Pedroza. She is 12-3-1-3 overall with earnings of $242,800.
Course specialist Velvet Mesquite will make her first added money start in the Distaff and would appear to have a big look, given her proven affinity for the hillside. A winner of four out of her five races over the course, the Harris Farms homebred has been idle since running poorly from the rail in a six furlong (Polytrack) allowance at Del Mar July 17.
Trained by Blake Heap, she’s been ridden in her last four starts by Tyler Baze, but will be handled for the first time by Mike Smith on Saturday. A 4-year-old filly by In Excess, she has eight overall starts and all four of her wins have come down the hill. She has earnings of $180,606.
Baze will ride multiple stakes winning Warren’s Veneda, who he hasn’t been aboard since May 16, 2013–some 14 races back. Prior to that, Baze was up for a handy minor stakes win on April 27, 2013. Winless since taking the state-bred Cat’s Cradle Handicap seven starts back on Nov. 17, 2013, Warren’s Veneda was a non-threatening sixth in her most recent start, the one mile turf Solana Beach Handicap on Aug. 17.
Trained by Craig Lewis and owned and bred by Benjamin C. Warren, the 4-year-old filly by Affirmative has run once down the hill, finishing a close third in the Unzip Me Stakes on Sept. 28, 2013. She is 16-5-2-4 overall and has amassed earnings of $354,762.
Lightly raced, trainer Bob Baffert’s Global Hottie has won two out her first three starts, and will try turf for the first time in the Distaff. A highly regarded 3-year-old filly by Dixie Chatter, she has been odds-on in all three starts and comes off a smashing 3 ½ length allowance win going six furlongs at Los Alamitos on Sept. 18.
A $190,000 Barretts May 2-year-old in training graduate in 2013, she’s owned by Mike Pegram, Karl Watson and Paul Weitman. She’ll break from the rail under Martin Garcia and a feathery 113 pounds as she seeks her third win-in-a-row.
The complete field for Saturday’s California Distaff Handicap, to be run as the ninth race on a 10-race program, with jockeys and weights in post position order: Global Hottie, Martin Garcia, 113; Warren’s Veneda, Tyler Baze, 119; Sprague River, Edwin Maldonado (alt.) 113; Qiaona, Rafael Bejarano, 120; Twelve Folds, Fernando Perez, 114; Heat Trap, Brice Blanc, 117; Ciao Bella Luna, Elvis Trujillo, 121; Star Field, Aaron Gryder, 117; Tribal Spy, Joe Talamo, 123; Go West Marie, Martin Pedroza, 119, and Velvet Mesquite, Mike Smith 118. ALSO ELIGIBLE: Smoove It, Mario Gutierrez, 112.