01/21/2011 3:26PM

Eclair de Lune fit for return in Megahertz

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Reed Palmer Photography/Churchill Downs
Beverly D. winner Eclair de Lune will make her first start Sunday since the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf.

ARCADIA, Calif. – Three weeks later and a furlong shorter than planned, top turf mare Eclair de Lune returns Sunday as the class of the field in the $75,000 Megahertz Stakes at Santa Anita.

A Grade 1 winner last summer for owner Richard Duchossois and trainer Ron McAnally, Eclair de Lune was scheduled to return Jan. 1. But wet weather interrupted her training from Dec. 9 to Dec. 30, and McAnally scratched her from the Grade 2 Robert J. Frankel at 1 1/8 miles.

“It rained so much we couldn’t get a work in her,” McAnally said. “She hadn’t worked in three weeks. That’s why she didn’t run.”

The good news for McAnally is that the weather in January has been gorgeous, and Eclair de Lune has resumed a regular pattern.

“She’ll be fit for the mile race,” McAnally said.

Therein lies the rub. McAnally said one mile “probably is a little bit short.” Eclair de Lune has won three races and $547,843 in 11 starts; the Megahertz is her first start since Nov. 5, when she finished sixth, beaten two lengths, in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf.

If the distance is too short for Eclair de Lune and jockey Rafael Bejarano, it is perfect for Lilly Fa Pootz and Burg Berg. The six-horse field also includes Southern Fireball, It Tiz, and Sandi’s Ready.

The former claimer Lilly Fa Pootz is vastly improved since she was claimed for $16,000 in late 2009 by trainer Jerry Hollendorfer. Since then, she has won four races and $218,870.

Lilly Fa Pootz’s recent form is blurred by two dull autumn efforts in which she was overmatched or compromised by racing inside horses, which she dislikes. Last time out, on Jan. 2, Lilly Fa Pootz began to wake up by finishing fourth in a turf sprint stakes.

“It was a good prep race,” assistant trainer Dan Ward said. “This is a good spot.”

Joel Rosario rides Lilly Fa Pootz, who could tuck into a good trip positioned behind Southern Fireball and Burg Berg.

Paco Gonzalez trains Burg Berg, who makes her first start since winning a minor stakes at a mile on turf Oct. 10. She has won 4 of 16 and will be ridden by Mike Smith.

Southern Fireball finished third last out in a mile turf race. The switch to Pat Valenzuela suggests she will show speed from the inside. The Megahertz, named after the diminutive nine-time graded stakes winner trained by Bobby Frankel, is race 8 on a nine-race card.