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Blind Luck has lively workout for El Encino
ARCADIA, Calif. − One day after being named a finalist for champion 3-year-old filly of 2010, Blind Luck moved a step closer to her 2011 debut by working a sharp seven furlongs at Santa Anita on Friday morning. What was more impressive, though, was the gallop out. The relentless mighty mite went out another seven furlongs, coming around to the furlong pole, before finally stopping.
“We think we have her ready. She should be plenty fit now,” Jerry Hollendorfer, her trainer and co-owner, said in what, seven days into the year, ranks as the understatement of 2011.
Blind Luck, last year’s Kentucky Oaks winner, is set to race next Sunday in the Grade 2, $150,000 El Encino Stakes for 4-year-old fillies at 1 1/16 miles on the main track. It will be her first start since finishing second in the Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic two months ago. On Friday, Blind Luck was timed in 1:25.20 for seven furlongs with exercise rider Marco Ramirez. Hollendorfer had her final furlong in less than 12 seconds, and he had her going out a mile, to the seven-eighths pole, in 1:39.
Rather than stop, though, Blind Luck just kept going, galloping down the backstretch, through the far turn, and into the stretch. For a slightly built filly, she has loads of energy.
“Hopefully, she’s all set to go now,” Hollendorfer said. “Maybe she’ll have a little blowout before the race.”
Hollendorfer will saddle Blind Luck in the El Encino, then early the following morning will catch a plane to Florida to attend that night’s Eclipse Awards ceremony, at which Blind Luck will be the heavy favorite to be named champion of her division. The other finalists for champion 3-year-old filly are Evening Jewel and Havre de Grace
Sunshine Millions for Evening Jewel
Evening Jewel’s trainer, Jim Cassidy, said she came out of her disappointing effort in last weekend’s Monrovia Stakes in good order and would be pointed to the $300,000 Sunshine Millions Distaff going 1 1/16 miles at Santa Anita on Jan. 29.
“I wasn’t all that shocked or surprised,” Cassidy said Friday. “She just didn’t seem to have her head in it. We’ll try to get her up for the Sunshine Millions.”
Cassidy’s other stable star, The Usual Q.T., is pointing for the $300,000 Sunshine Millions Turf here Jan. 29 at 1 1/8 miles on grass.
Abrams celebrates unusual sweep
The sire Unusual Heat had four of the nine runners in the fifth race Thursday, and they swept the first four spots, with Phi Beat Heat, trained by Barry Abrams, winning. Abrams also finished third with Unknown Heat. And Abrams is part of the partnership that has gleaned the success of Unusual Heat, California’s leading sire.
“My guess is the only place that might have happened is Japan, with Sunday Silence,” Abrams said. “To me, having Unusual Heat get the first four spots was more exciting than winning the race. You can always win another race, but it’s not often you can go 1-2-3-4.”
Two of the workhorses of Abrams’s barn, Party With Brando and Lisa Lulu, are racing Sunday. Party With Brando, who goes in the second race, raced 23 times last year. She was a sloth compared to Lisa Lulu, who ran 28 times last year and makes her first start of this calendar year in the ninth race.
“In the old days they used to run three or four times a month,” Abrams said. “There’s no reason, as long as they’re sound and happy, that you can’t still do that.”
Three fillies making their debuts in opener
Of the five horses entered in Sunday’s first race, three are making their debuts, including Beautiful Sunday and Lunar Lovegal, who drew the outside posts in the seven-furlong race.
Beautiful Sunday “has trained forwardly,” according to Cassidy, her trainer.
“I’d like to see the race at three-quarters instead of seven, but she’s trained so much, it’s time to go,” Cassidy said. “She’s actually OK.”
Lunar Lovegal “doesn’t have lot of speed,” according to her trainer, Paddy Gallagher.
“She takes a while to get going,” Gallagher said. “Eventually she’ll like more distance. But this is plenty now.”
Smiling Tiger among big-name workers
In addition to Blind Luck, a number of top-class runners worked Friday morning at Santa Anita, most notably Smiling Tiger, the second-place finisher in the Grade 1 Malibu Stakes on opening day Dec. 26.
Smiling Tiger sped five furlongs for trainer Jeff Bonde in 57.60 seconds, the best time of 84 at the distance. He is expected to make his next start in the Grade 2, $150,000 Palos Verdes Stakes at six furlongs Jan. 22.
Sinai, an impressive debut winner for trainer Bob Baffert at Hollywood, worked six furlongs in 1:13 in preparation for the $75,000 San Pedro Stakes at 6 1/2 furlongs Jan. 17.
A Z Warrior, the Frizette Stakes winner, also worked for Baffert, going five furlongs in 1:02.40.
Breeders’ Futurity winner Square Eddie, launching yet another comeback, worked five furlongs from the gate in 58 seconds for trainer Doug O’Neill.
Mona de Momma, who won the Humana Distaff last year, worked five furlongs in 1:00.80 for trainer John Sadler as she nears a return to action.
Tell Kelly taking a winter break
Grade 1 winner Tell a Kelly, among the leading 2-year-old fillies last year in California, has been turned out and will skip the winter racing season trainer, John Sadler said Friday. Tell a Kelly was shipped to Florida.
“She had a lot of racing at 2, she won a Grade 1, and did a lot,” Sadler said. “She’s on holiday.”
Tell a Kelly last summer won the Del Mar Debutante and placed in two Grade 1’s in fall at Hollywood Park – the Oak Leaf Stakes and Hollywood Starlet.
Tell a Kelly also finished seventh in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Churchill Downs, and Sadler suspects she is most effective on artificial surfaces. “If she’s really synthetic, then Hollywood (makes the most sense),”he said.
Owned by Ike and Dawn Thrash, Tell a Kelly won two races and $270,110 from six starts in 2010.
Filly euthanized after catastrophic injury
Bless Finesse, an unraced 3-year-old filly trained by Jeff Metz, suffered catastrophic injuries to her right front leg while working Friday and subsequently was euthanized.
Dr. Jill Bailey, the veterinarian representing the California Horse Racing Board at this meet, said Bless Finesse was the second horse who suffered a catastrophic breakdown during training or racing since the meet began Dec. 26.
◗ Santa Anita’s pick-four wagers were to be reduced to a 50-cent minimum Saturday, according to Santa Anita’s website. They had been $1.
– additional reporting by Brad Free