03/27/2010 11:00PM

Church Camp brings streak to first stakes


ARCADIA, Calif. - At 6 1/2 furlongs on the main track, the Grade 3 Santa Paula Stakes on Sunday at Santa Anita would figure to be a hotly contested pace battle between an evenly matched field of 3-year-old filly sprinters.

The evenly matched reference is accurate, but the pace description needs revision because none of the seven starters in the $100,000 Santa Paula are front-runners. Instead, the field includes seven fillies whose preferred running styles are off the pace.

Church Camp, sharp comeback winner Feb. 11 in her first start for trainer Brian Koriner, will be among the favorites. Her rivals include late-running sprinter La Nez, stakes-winning comebacker Crisis of Spirit, 2-for-2 Five Silver Stars, Sister Dawn, Tanda, and Seriously.

Church Camp is trained by Koriner and ridden by Joe Talamo, who were scheduled to team Saturday in Dubai with California Flag in the Al Quoz Sprint. Church Camp, purchased privately after a runaway debut Nov. 19 at Churchill Downs, won a first-level allowance last month with an 84 Beyer Speed Figure in her first start at Santa Anita. Church Camp has tactical speed.

Sister Dawn scored a sharp debut win Jan. 24 for trainer John Sadler, who accepts blame for her fourth-place finish March 4 as the favorite in an allowance route.

"I did a bad job, running her long when she wasn't ready," Sadler said.

Early this week, Sister Dawn "breezed really well with blinkers," Sadler said, referring to a five-furlong bullet work in 58.80 seconds. Sister Dawn adds blinkers for a turn back to 6 1/2 furlongs and is likely to be forwardly placed near a soft pace.

Crisis of Spirit won the Anoakia Stakes last fall, then finished a flat fourth to Bickersons in the Moccasin at Hollywood Park.

"I freshened her up, she's been working very well," trainer Bob Baffert said. "It's a good spot for her, she's doing well."

La Nez might be the class of the field based on her third-place finish against males Dec. 26. The one-two finishers in that statebred stakes were Caracortado and Alphie's Bet, subsequent graded stakes winners.

The knock on La Nez is her closing style could be compromised if the pace unfolds as slow as expected. La Nez has won 2 of 7.

Tanda moves from turf to synthetic; Five Silver Stars won her debut by 10 lengths at Prairie Meadows, then was purchased privately and won her first start for Jerry Hollendorfer on Jan. 16.