09/29/2016 1:46PM

Avenge continues class rise in Rodeo Drive

Benoit & Associates
Avenge, coming off a win in the Grade 2 John C. Mabee, will try Grade 1 company for the first time in the Rodeo Drive.

ARCADIA, Calif. – Avenge progressed steadily through the summer to reach the winner’s circle of her first graded stakes in the $202,070 John C. Mabee Stakes at Del Mar on Sept. 4.

Much more is expected of the 4-year-old filly this fall. Avenge starts in her first Grade 1 race in Saturday’s $300,000 Rodeo Drive Stakes for fillies and mares at 1 1/4 miles on turf at Santa Anita. The race is part of the Breeders’ Cup Win and You’re In program, offering a fees-paid berth in the BC Filly and Mare Turf here on Nov. 5.

The Breeders’ Cup is very much on the mind of trainer Richard Mandella. He guided Avenge through a summer campaign at Del Mar that included wins in an optional claimer at a mile in July and the Grade 2 Mabee at 1 1/8 miles.

“I asked her to go a mile, and she did that,” Mandella said. “I asked her to go a mile and an eighth, and she did that. I’ll ask her another question.”

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Avenge will need a career-best race to win the Rodeo Drive, which drew an excellent field of 14. Other contenders include Sobradora Inc., a South American Group 1 winner who won the minor Osunitas Stakes at Del Mar in July; Decked Out, who was second in the Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks in August; Elektrum, a close third in the Mabee; and Zipessa, who was third in the Beverly D. Stakes at Arlington Park in August.

Rodeo Drive, Race 8


Avenge, by War Front

Last 3 Beyers: 94-95-81

◗ Owned by Ramona Bass, Avenge won the minor Ultrafleet Stakes for 3-year-old fillies on the hillside turf course in 2015 but has raced at a much higher level this year.

“She had her little run last year and got tired from that, so we gave her a break,” Mandella said. “She seems like she’s continuing to improve.”

◗ Avenge will be ridden by Flavien Prat, who was aboard for the two wins at Del Mar. Avenge will be near the front, which should give her a tactical advantage over some rivals who are closers.

Sobradora Inc, by Include

Last 2 Beyers: 90-99

◗ Sobradora Inc won her American debut in the Osunitas Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on turf with an impressive late rally. She was fifth in the Mabee as the 2-1 favorite, closing from eighth of 12 to be closest at the finish.

“There was no pace,” trainer Simon Callaghan said. “She didn’t get a chance to run.”

◗ The Mabee was Sobradora Inc’s first loss in her sixth start. She won two Group 1 races at 1 1/4 miles on turf in Argentina last fall.

“The step up to a mile and a quarter will help her,” Callaghan said. “I think she’s ready to run a big one.”

Elektrum, by High Chaparral

Last 3 Beyers: 93-98-96

◗ Elektrum is winless in seven starts since the 2015 Mabee Stakes and has been third in her last three races – the Grade 1 Gamely Stakes here in June, the Osunitas, and the Mabee. A closer, Elektrum was second in the 2015 Rodeo Drive and will benefit from a return to 1 1/4 miles, trainer John Sadler said.

“We’ve been wanting to get her back into these longer races,” Sadler said. “We expect a top effort.”

Zipessa, by City Zip

Last 3 Beyers: 92-94-91

◗ The Rodeo Drive will be Zipessa’s first start in California since a last-place finish in the Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks in August 2015. Trained by Mike Stidham, Zipessa led in the stretch of the Beverly D. and has recent credentials that are a good fit in the Rodeo Drive.