Updated on 09/15/2011 1:41PM

Route is west for La Vida Loca


DEL MAR, Calif. - Patrick Byrne hopes he's making like Ricky Martin, shaking his bon bon and livin' la vida loca, after Sunday's $150,000 San Clemente Handicap. Burne has sent La Vida Loca, a recent addition to his barn, to Del Mar for the Grade 2 San Clemente, a prep race to next month's Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks. She could be a slight favorite against seven rivals.

The San Clemente is the day's fourth race, and serves as a supporting feature to the main attraction, the $250,000 San Diego Handicap. Both the one-mile San Clemente and the 1 1/8-mile Oaks are on the turf.

Since Byrne is based in Kentucky, he had the option of heading to Del Mar or Saratoga with La Vida Loca. With the 3-year-old turf filly division here appearing soft, Byrne decided to head west. He also benefited by the decision of trainer Christophe Clement not to send Voodoo Dancer back to California from New York. Voodoo Dancer beat up on a similar bunch in the Flawlessly Stakes at Hollywood Park on May 28.

La Vida Loca, a daughter of Caerleon, has won three of four starts in this country since being imported from Ireland. She finished third in the Grade 3 Regret Stakes at Churchill Downs in her most-recent start on June 16. Since then, La Vida Loca was sold privately to owner Robert Sangster, who transferred the filly to Byrne. She had been trained by Bill Mott.

"We decided to go out there because the San Clemente is a flat mile, and it's a Grade 2," Byrne said Friday morning from Kentucky, as he was preparing to leave for California. "There are lots of opportunities for 3-year-old grass fillies. She's been very successful at a flat mile. Win, lose, or draw, I think going out there is the right move."

La Vida Loca's three victories in this country all were at one mile. She won a first-level allowance at Gulfstream on Feb. 2, a second-level allowance at Keeneland on April 11, and the Edgewood Stakes at Churchill on May 12. She has yet to win a graded stakes, making the San Clemente a priority.

"She was bought as a broodmare prospect," Byrne said. "Mr. Sangster just acquired her a week ago. She's a good-looking, solid-type of filly."

Gary Stevens rides La Vida Loca, who carries 116 pounds, making her the co-highweight with Gabriellina Giof.

Gabriellina Giof closed furiously to take the 5 1/2-furlong Manhattan Beach Stakes at Hollywood Park in her North American debut on June 29 for trainer Ron McAnally. She won three times in six starts last year in Italy, and has finished worse than second just once in her seven-race career.