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VISIT EXPECTED TO ADD TO FRANKEL'S DOMINATION OF SANTA ANA
ARCADIA, Calif. (March 19, 2009) – Bobby Frankel, who has saddled eight of the last 17 winners of Santa Anita’s Grade II, $150,000 Santa Ana Handicap including the last two, is expected to expand his domination with British-bred Vista in Sunday’s 42nd running of the mile-and-one-eighth turf event for older fillies and mares.
Visit will carry high weight of 118 pounds among nine entrants while attempting to provide Juddmonte Farms with its fourth Santa Ana victory and propel jockey Garrett Gomez to within one win of Santa Anita’s seasonal record of 19 stakes victories shared by Laffit Pincay Jr. (1982-83) and Corey Nakatani (1996-97).
A 4-year-old homebred daughter of Oasis Dream, Visit returns to the turf on Sunday following a lackluster effort when sixth as the 3-2 favorite in Santa Anita’s Grade I Santa Maria Handicap at 1 1/16 miles over the main track on Feb. 14.
Frankel is anxious to discount that showing. “I hope it’s just a throw-out race,” the Hall of Fame trainer told the Daily Racing Form. “She was down on the inside, she wanted to run, there was no place to run, and she spit it out.”
A grass surface, nonetheless, is a proven commodity for the bay filly who was a multiple Group 3 winner on turf in England before being shipped to the United States last fall for the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf at Santa Anita.
At odds of 17-1 in the Breeders’ Cup competition at 1¼ miles, she took the lead entering the stretch before fading to fourth, 1½ lengths behind victorious Forever Together. Gomez climbed aboard when she subsequently finished third to Cocoa Beach by 1¼ lengths in Hollywood Park’s Grade I Matriarch at one mile on grass.
Except for the Santa Maria over an unfamiliar surface, Visit has only once finished more than 1½ lengths behind the winner in 10 career starts. She was a well-beaten eighth in Newmarket’s Group 1 Cheveley Park Stakes in October of 2007. Visit has earned $356,014 from an overall mark of 2-2-2.
Frankel’s filly will take a decided class edge into this Santa Ana with Satan’s Circus, second in last July’s Grade I American Oaks at Hollywood Park, appearing to be her most prominent rival.
A 4-year-old Gone West filly trained by Patrick Biancone for Martin S. Schwartz, Satan’s Circus came within three-quarters of a length of registering a 14-1 upset in her U.S. debut, the American Oaks won by Pure Clan. She previously had run fifth in the Group 1 French Oaks at Chantilly.
Satan’s Circus, however, has regressed since her sharp second in the American Oaks. As the 7-5 favorite in the Del Mark Oaks, she finished fourth and has been off the board in two subsequent races in this country.
The bay filly, bred in Kentucky by Martin and Pam Wygod, was freshened after being outrun in the Grade I Garden City Stakes at Belmont Park last September. She returned with a solid prep for the Santa Ana while closing well to finish fourth in an allowance event at 6½ furlongs over Santa Anita’s downhill turf course on March 6.
Joe Talamo picks up the mount on Satan’s Circus, who won three successive starts in France prior to the French Oaks and who has earned $309,013 from a career record of 4-2-0 in 12 starts.
The complete field for the Santa Ana Handicap, with jockeys and weights in post position order: Bel Air Sizzle, Rafael Bejarano, 115; In My Glory, Martin Garcia, 113; Sharp Susan, Mike Smith, 115; Eissoai, Victor Espinoza, 113; Exquisite, Alex Solis, 112; Visit, Garrett Gomez, 118; Belmont Cat, Joel Rosario, 115; Satan’s Circus, Joseph Talamo, 116, and Dawn After Dawn, Tyler Baze, 116.
Sportscaster Rich Marotta, from radio station KFI, will present the Santa Ana trophy.
The Santa Ana is scheduled as the eighth-race on a nine-race program to be televised by HRTV. First post is at 12:30 p.m.