03/17/2011 2:27PM

Santa Ana crucial for Eclair de Lune


ARCADIA, Calif. – At least until Saturday, Eclair de Lune can live off her reputation as the winner of the Grade 1 Beverly D. Stakes at Arlington Park last fall.

She lost two subsequent starts – finishing sixth in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf in November and fourth in the Megahertz Stakes at Santa Anita in January, defeats that make a win in Saturday’s $150,000 Santa Ana Stakes all the more important.

Eclair de Lune rightfully earned a place among the nation’s leading turf females in the Beverly D. She needs to win a race such as the Santa Ana to maintain that status.

Trainer Ron McAnally is confident in Eclair de Lune’s condition following the Megahertz, which was run over a mile on firm turf, a distance that is arguably shorter than Eclair de Lune’s best trip. The Santa Ana is run over 1 1/8 miles on turf.

“She’s been steady,” he said. “Before her last race, we missed a few works because we couldn’t get on the grass. We haven’t missed anything since her last race. She should be ready for the race.”

The course is expected to be firm, but McAnally would prefer to see a little rain before race time, although forecasts suggest that is unlikely rain. “The track was a little firm last time,” he said.

Éclair de Lune will be ridden for the first time by Chantal Sutherland, who replaces Rafael Bejarano.

“She’s patient,” McAnally said of Sutherland . “I had a choice of [Victor] Espinoza, and Patrick Valenzuela and they’re a little strong for her. She’s kind of a light-mouthed filly.”

Bejarano will ride Malibu Pier, who was a game third in the Grade 2 Buena Vista Handicap over a mile on turf on Feb. 21, closing from fifth to finish 1 1/4 lengths behind Cozi Rosie.

The Santa Ana distance will suit Turning Top, who won two stakes at Hollywood Park last summer, including the Grade 3 Beverly Hills Handicap over 1 1/4 miles on turf. Trained by Simon Callaghan, Turning Top was sixth in the Buena Vista, making up five lengths in the final furlong to lose by three lengths.

“She flew home,” Callaghan said. “If the race had worked out better, she could have gone close to winning. She’s a mile-and-an-eighth to a mile-and-a-quarter filly.”

In a field of 10, trainer Jerry Hollendorfer has two starters – Lilly Fa Pootz, fifth in the Buena Vista, and Washington Bridge, the winner of the Grade 2 Bayakoa Handicap on a synthetic track at Hollywood Park in December.

Lilly Fa Pootz was second in the stretch of the Buena Vista, but faded late under jockey Joel Rosario. Corey Nakatani rides Lilly Fa Pootz on Saturday, while Rosario rides Turning Top.

It Tiz, who won the Megahertz, will be after her first graded stakes win, following an eighth in the Buena Vista.

“She didn’t run her race that day, and I don’t know why,” trainer Mark Glatt said. “She threw in a clunker. I think this is an easier spot. She’ll need to relax to get the mile and an eighth.”