ARCADIA, Calif. (Jan. 14, 2016)–Highly regarded Uruguayan-bred Gaga A heads a field of nine older fillies and mares Sunday in Santa Anita’s $75,000 Astra Stakes at the marathon distance of 1 ½ miles on turf.
A Group III winner in France three starts back, she took her U.S. debut at a mile and a half on turf this past June 7 at Santa Anita and was subsequently a close third as the 3-1 favorite in her most recent start, the Grade III, 1 3/16 miles turf Modesty Handicap at Arlington Park on July 11.
Trained by Neil Drysdale in both of her stateside starts, the 7-year-old mare regains the services of Tyler Baze, who was aboard for her win on June 7, a race in which she was attentive to the pace and kicked clear late to win by 1 ¼ lengths.
Owned by her breeders, Haras Phillipson, Inc., Gaga A is by two-time Santa Juan Capistrano Stakes winner T.H. Approval and is 30-5-3-6 overall, with earnings of $283,591.
Ridden for the first time by Flavien Prat, Fresh Feline comes off a seventh place run in the Grade III, 1 1/8 miles turf Robert J. Frankel Stakes here on Dec. 27 and poses a pace threat to “Gaga” as she often presses the early action. Trained by John Shirreffs and owned by Lazy F Ranch, Fresh Feline is a 5-year-old mare by Kitten’s Joy who is 13-2-5-3, with earnings of $184,870.
Second, beaten 3 ½ lengths in her U.S. debut going one mile on turf here Dec. 30, trainer John Sadler’s Nancy From Nairobi was squeezed at the break and would appear to have ample upside. A 5-year-old English-bred mare, Nancy From Nairobi is owned by Hronis Racing, LLC and has two wins from 18 career starts.
Hronis and Sadler will also be represented by Irish-bred Princess Charm, who is Group III placed in France, has been ineffective in three stateside stakes, including Santa Anita’s Grade III, one mile turf Autumn Miss Stakes two starts back on Oct. 17. A 4-year-old filly, she has lacked any discernable punch from off the pace of late, but did win going a mile and a quarter on turf in France. She is 12-3-1-2 overall with earnings of $113,410.
The complete field for Sunday’s Astra Stakes, to be run as the seventh race on a nine-race program, with jockeys and weights in post positon order: Fresh Feline, Flavien Prat, 116; Gaga A, Tyler Baze, 120; Havanna Belle, Brice Blanc, 116; More Than Less, Mike Smith, 116; Generosidade, Tiago Pereira, 118; Energia Fribby, Mario Gutierrez, 118; Princess Charm, Joe Talamo, 118; Nancy From Nairobi, Abel Lezcano, 116, and Sweet as a Rose, Drayden Van Dyke, 116.
First post time on Sunday is at 12:30, admission gates open at 10:30 a.m.