10/29/2009 11:00PM

La Nez's dam was a real bargain buy


ARCADIA, Calif. - The foundation for Eric Kruljac's first Breeders' Cup starter next weekend cost about the same as a European vacation.

Way back in 1995, Kruljac recalls that he and a former partner paid $3,000 to buy the yearling filly Iza Bay, the dam of La Nez, who is among the pre-entries for the $1 million Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf at Santa Anita on Friday.

Only Kruljac, and a select few others, know how much of a bargain that has become.

La Nez has won 2 of 5 starts and $150,600 this year, but she was bought privately last Monday by Tom Arndt (A&R Racing) and Joe Mozino (Class Racing Stable). Kruljac bred La Nez, with his son Chance, and owned the filly at the time of the sale with Nezi Simmons.

La Nez will make her first start for Arndt and Mozino in the Juvenile Fillies Turf, with Kruljac staying on as a trainer. He is optimistic that the California-bred filly can produce a surprising result as an expected longshot.

"I think she can do anything," he said.

La Nez is one of five California-breds pre-entered in the 14 Breeders' Cup races next Friday and Saturday. Lethal Heat is pre-entered in Friday's Ladies' Classic and Saturday's Turf Sprint. California Flag is a leading contender in the Turf Sprint.

There are two Cal-breds pre-entered in Saturday's Sprint - Dancing in Silks and Cost of Freedom. Dancing in Silks is also pre-entered in the Turf Sprint. Trainer Carla Gaines has listed that race as a second preference.

La Nez, by Storm Creek, will be making her turf debut in the Breeders' Cup, and Kruljac is counting on her breeding to carry her through. Iza Bay won an allowance race on the hillside turf course here in 1998.

"Her mother freaked on the turf," Kruljac said of Iza Bay. "She was the longest shot on the board."

Kruljac retains ownership of Iza Bay's foals. He has a yearling full sister to La Nez, a weanling half-sister by Marino Marini, and Iza Bay has been bred back to Marino Marini, Kruljac said.

While La Nez's breeding has inexpensive roots, the families of California Flag and Lethal Heat have been more prominent among statebreds lately. California Flag is by Avenue of Flags, out of Ultrafleet, the 2008-09 California broodmare of the year. The award was voted on by members of the California Thoroughbred Breeders Association.

Ultrafleet, 17, is owned by John and Diane Fradkin. She is also the dam of the California-bred graded stakes winner Cambiocorsa, who won 9 of 18 starts and $522,055.

John Fradkin leased Ultrafleet to Keith Card for a year, and the resulting breeding produced California Flag, who races for Card. More recently, Ultrafleet produced a 2008 Vindication colt, who was listed as not sold for $47,000 at the Keeneland September yearling sale; and a Harlan's Holiday filly born earlier this year. She has been bred back to Bernardini.

Lethal Heat's dam, Lethal Leta, was fourth in the balloting for the broodmare of the year title. Lethal Heat is known among the partnership that owns her and trainer Barry Abrams as the "best horse in the country not to win a stakes this year." She is winless in seven starts this year, but has been second or third in six stakes.

Abrams wanted to take two chances to change that during the Breeders' Cup, kicking around the idea of running her in Friday's Ladies' Classic and Saturday's Turf Sprint. But since the Turf Sprint drew 22 pre-entries, and Breeders' Cup rules state that a horse cannot be entered in two races if the entry denies another horse a chance to win, Lethal Heat may have to try only the Ladies' Classic.

A win there would a milestone enough, for Lethal Heat and California-breds in general.