Updated on 09/15/2011 1:40PM

How far will speed carry?

Benoit & Associates
Affluent, switching from turf to dirt, is one of a solid group of 3-year-old filly sprinters in the La Brea.

ARCADIA, Calif. - When a filly has not started in five months and is trying to stretch her speed beyond her preferred distance in a Grade 1 sprint with 12 starters, one might surmise she is vulnerable. One might be wrong.

"I don't mean to denigrate any of the other participants, but I wouldn't trade my chances with anyone," trainer Darrell Vienna said.

Vienna has good reason to express confidence. He saddles Above Perfection, who might be long gone Saturday in the $200,000 La Brea Stakes at Santa Anita. Twelve 3-year-old fillies with varied backgrounds converge in the seven-furlong La Brea, a race that has Above Perfection's name written all over it, even if seven furlongs is a reach.

"She might be 'found out' at this distance against good horses," Vienna admitted, but added, "He's such a good filly, and the way I train she's fit enough to go a mile."

She will go just one turn Saturday, against a strong La Brea field that includes Grade 1 winners Affluent and Cindy's Hero; and pace-pressers Mon Ange, Love at Noon, and Hall of Gold.

Though the La Brea came up tough, Above Perfection's resume suggests she is up to the challenge. Her only loss in five starts was a neck defeat to Xtra Heat at Belmont Park.

Above Perfection posted three successive triple-digit Beyers before her final start. "She'd run pretty hard and didn't seem like herself," Vienna explained about her layoff. "Horses that run that fast, you have to be careful with. They're always running at the edge of destruction when they run that quick."

Beyond fast works and proven class, Above Perfection and comebacker Love at Noon are the only starters who have earned multiple triple-digit Beyers. Love at Noon may produce speed in her first start in six months, but she is not a pure speedball. Finally, Golden Gate shipper Hall of Gold has never been on the lead at the first pace call. To win the La Brea, they all must catch Above Perfection and jockey David Flores.

*, who may be favored, will race for the first time since winning a Grade 1 grass route Oct. 13 at Keeneland. Trainer Ron McAnally said the distance change is not an issue. "Her being fresh, I don't think it matters," McAnally said, adding "she's doing very well, she's doing everything right." Affluent has won 4 of 10 for owner Janis Whitham.


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