02/23/2010 12:00AM

Alpha Kitten makes return


ARCADIA, Calif. - They were budding stars of the filly division before disappearing in early 2009. One year later at age 4, they are coming back in waves.

A week after unbeaten graded stakes winner Witty returned from a layoff with a fourth consecutive victory, Alpha Kitten and Heartless Vixen take their turn Wednesday in the race 7 feature at Santa Anita. Whether they win or lose the allowance sprint, expectations will remain high for 2010.

Alpha Kitten, 2 for 4, won the Grade 2 Santa Ynez last January before she suffered a cracked cannon bone. Heartless Vixen won her first two starts last winter, including a facile victory over a subsequent Grade 1 winner, before underdeveloped bones forced her to the sidelines in March.

Alpha Kitten, trained by John Sadler, and Heartless Vixen, trained by Ron Ellis, return from extended layoffs as the principals Wednesday in a second-level allowance for fillies and mares at 6 1/2 furlongs.

The field includes graded-stakes-placed Glorified, a 6-year-old returning from a layoff after chips were removed from both ankles, and Zilla, who was in foal with twins last spring before she aborted. Via Veneto and Emmy Darling also entered.

Alpha Kitten, who is owned and bred by Jerry and Ann Moss, returns as the horse to beat. Only four starts into the filly's career, she ranked last winter as one of the top 3-year-old fillies in California. Her campaign ended when she cracked a cannon bone during a routine gallop at Santa Anita.

"What was so shocking about it is it wasn't in a work, it wasn't in a race," Sadler said.

It was, however, poor timing. Her 3-year-old season ended in January. Alpha Kitten had screws inserted, and Sadler believes she can return as good as she was when she left. He also admits that winning a $49,000 allowance race first start in 11 months is not a priority.

"We want to see her run well and pull up good," Sadler said.

Alpha Kitten's regular rider Tyler Baze is aboard, and the filly's debut victory as a 2-year-old proves she runs well fresh. She did not draw particularly well, however.

"She drew the 1, but she's going to come off it a little bit anyway," Sadler said.

Heartless Vixen also runs fresh. She won her first two starts in 2009, including a 4 1/4-length allowance over Gabby's Golden Gal, who later won the Acorn at Belmont and Santa Monica at Santa Anita. Heartless Vixen has not raced since March.

Ellis suspected something was amiss with Heartless Vixen, who he said was not using her right lead. An examination showed that bone of a forearm was not solidified, a condition called "bone islands." Out she went. No surgery, just time.

Heartless Vixen has "trained great," Ellis said, adding, "Now, she's 100 percent."

Victor Espinoza rides Heartless Vixen, owned by Gary Broad. Ellis also starts Glorified, whose future - racemare or broodmare - depends on her performance Wednesday.

Glorified, who has raced only once since May 2008, had chips removed from both ankles. She returns with leading rider Rafael Bejarano aboard.

Zilla also could be bred, though she has worked well for her first start since Jan. 7.

"She's still sound, she's still here, and I expect her to run big," trainer Bruce Headley said.