09/27/2012 3:22PM

Santa Anita: Byrama tests Callaghan's theory in Unzip Me

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Shigeki Kikkawa
Byrama, winning the Manhattan Beach at Del Mar, will test her affinity for the downhill turf course at Santa Anita in Saturday's Unzip Me.

ARCADIA, Calif. – In the seven months since Byrama won an optional claimer on the hillside turf course at Santa Anita, the race looks better and better.

“I think she’s definitely a sprinter,” trainer Simon Callaghan said. “I’m thinking that six and a half furlongs is going to be her fort e .”

Byrama can prove Callaghan’s theory when she starts as the expected favorite in Saturday’s $70,000 Unzip Me Stakes for 3-year-old fillies over about 6 1/2 furlongs on the hillside turf course.

[SANTA ANITA: Get PPs and watch Saturday's full card live]

Since her win in the optional claimer, Byrama has 1 win in 6 starts, the minor Manhattan Beach Stakes over six furlongs on turf at Betfair Hollywood Park on June 9. She was fourth in two one-mile turf races at Del Mar – the Grade 2 San Clemente Stakes and Sandy Blue Handicap – and second to Reneesgotzip in the CERF Stakes over six furlongs on the Polytrack synthetic surface there Sept. 5.

Reneesgotzip was a heavy favorite in the CERF Stakes and is scheduled to make her next start in the $250,000 Santa Anita Sprint Championship on Oct. 6.

“We knew we were taking on a tough filly,” Callaghan said of Reneesgotzip. “She’s a Grade 1 filly. I think we ran an admirable race against her.”

Byrama, who races for the Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, is part of an oversubscribed field in the Unzip Me Stakes. The race drew a field of 14, but will have 12 starters.

Byrama will be ridden by Rafael Bejarano and is a threat from off the pace.

“There is a lot of speed,” Callaghan said. “We can relax and make a run.”

The Unzip Me Stakes is expected to lose at least one runner in Best Present Ever, who will be pointed to the $125,000 California Cup Distaff over about 6 1/2 furlongs on turf Oct. 13.

Trainer Eric Kruljac said he prefers the timing and the purse of the Cal Cup Distaff.

“It is worth more money,” he said. “I think she’s a work short. This way, I’ll be able to give her two more workouts.”

Her absence would allow Starry Skies to join the field. Trained by Marty Jones, Starry Skies was second in the Melair Stakes at Hollywood Park in April.

The race includes one Grade 1 winner in Killer Graces, who won the Hollywood Starlet Stakes last December. She is winless in six starts this year and will be fitted with blinkers for the first time Saturday.

Slim Shadey auditions for BC Turf

The Callaghan-trained Slim Shadey starts as a leading contender in Sunday’s $150,000 John Henry Turf Championship over 1 1/4 miles on turf.

The Grade 2 John Henry could lead to a start in the Breeders’ Cup Turf on Nov. 3 for Slim Shadey.

“This race will tell us,” Callaghan said. “We’ll keep our options open.”

Another possibility is a cut back in distance to the BC Mile on turf.

Slim Shadey was the winner of the Grade 2 San Marcos Stakes over 1 1/4 miles on turf here in January, but is winless in five subsequent starts, all stakes.

Second in the Grade 1 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic in May and the Grade 1 Charles Whittingham Handicap in June, Slim Shadey had a dip in form in July. He was fifth in the United Nations Stakes at Monmouth Park on July 7 and fifth two weeks later in the Eddie Read Stakes at Del Mar.

Callaghan said that Slim Shadey returned to racing too quickly in the Eddie Read.

“We probably made a bad move,” he said. “Since Del Mar, we’ve freshened him and he’s back to where we want him.”

The 10-runner John Henry includes Casino Host, winner of the Grade 2 Del Mar Handicap in August; and Bourbon Bay, winner of the San Juan Capistrano Handicap here in April.