04/24/2014 12:13PM

Rovenna looks for direction from Melair Stakes

Benoit & Associates
Rovenna's performance in the Melair Stakes will determine the filly's direction for 2014, according to her trainer.

ARCADIA, Calif. – Rovenna has been flawless in sprints for California-bred 3-year-old fillies at Santa Anita in recent months, winning an optional claimer in February and the $200,000 Evening Jewel Stakes over 6 1/2 furlongs April 5.

How she performs over 1 1/16 miles in Saturday’s $250,000 Melair Stakes for California-bred 3-year-old fillies will determine her 2014 campaign.

“If she stretches out and runs a big race, we’ve got a lot of options with her,” trainer Mike Machowsky said.

Machowsky insists that Rovenna should not be judged on her past two-turn races. Last November, Rovenna finished third, beaten by 5 1/2 lengths, behind Swiss Lake Yodeler in the $200,000 Golden State Juvenile Fillies Stakes over a mile on the undercard of the first day of the Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita. In January, she was third, beaten by 1 1/4 lengths, in the California Cup Oaks over a mile on turf.

[DRF Live: Get live reports and handicapping insights from Santa Anita this Saturday]

“When I ran her on the Breeders’ Cup undercard, she wasn’t ready to stretch out, fitness-wise or mentally,” Machowsky said. “It was the only spot, and it was worth a lot of money.”

The Melair Stakes is the richest race of the year for the division. Rovenna, who races for breeder Don Dizney, is part of a field of eight that includes Swiss Lake Yodeler as well as Anniversary Kitty and Harlington’s Rose, who have been second in stakes for California-bred fillies this year.

Anniversary Kitty was second in the Cal Cup Oaks. The Melair Stakes will be her first start on dirt after four races on turf. Harlington’s Rose was second to Rovenna in both the February optional claimer and the Evening Jewel Stakes.

The other runners are the improving Magic Spot and the longshots Shakeitupbetty, Versye, and Wonderful Lie.

Rovenna, by Vronsky, has won 3 of 8 starts and earned $257,760. She will be ridden by Victor Espinoza, who is likely to keep her close to the pace or on the lead. Machowsky insists that she is not one-dimensional.

“I think she’s getting better and better,” Machowsky said. “She doesn’t need to be on the lead. Victor worked her the other day, and he said she is improving.”

[California Gold Rush: Get PPs, watch Saturday's card live]

Swiss Lake Yodeler is the main danger for Rovenna. Trained by Jerry Hollendorfer for breeders Larry and Marianne Williams, Swiss Lake Yodeler has won 3 of 7 starts and earned $248,850. She is winless in three starts this year since winning the $200,000 Soviet Problem Stakes for California-breds on Dec. 21 at Hollywood Park.

Swiss Lake Yodeler was 11th as the 3-1 favorite in the Cal Cup Oaks and third as the favorite in the Grade 3 Santa Ysabel Stakes on a wet-fast track March 1. In the Group 3 Bourbonette Oaks on Polytrack on March 22 at Turfway Park, Swiss Lake Yodeler was ninth of 11.

Dan Ward, Hollendorfer’s assistant, said Swiss Lake Yodeler does not prefer synthetic tracks but won over such a surface at Hollywood Park because of class.

“She hated the synthetic,” Ward said. “She won because she was the best horse. We’ve been waiting for this.”