01/18/2013 5:02PM

Santa Anita: Eblouissante runs her way into graded stakes

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Shig Kikkawa
Eblouissante, ridden by Corey Nakatani, wins her second start on Thursday at Santa Anita. The Santa Margarita may be next.

ARCADIA, Calif. – Eblouissante, a half-sister to Zenyatta, is bound for a graded stakes in March after winning an optional claimer at Santa Anita on Thursday to remain unbeaten in two starts.

Friday, trainer John Shirreffs said that Eblouissante, 4, will be considered for the $300,000 Santa Margarita Stakes, a Grade 1 for fillies and mares over 1 1/8 miles here March 16. The race could lead to a start in the $500,000 Apple Blossom Handicap at Oaklawn Park on April 12.

“The Santa Margarita is the one that we’ll look at,” Shirreffs said.

He said the timing of the Santa Margarita is preferred to the $200,000 Santa Maria Stakes over 1 1/16 miles Feb. 16.

Shirreffs has had success at Oaklawn. He sent Zenyatta there twice, winning the 2008 and 2010 Apple Blossom.

“It’s a fun place to go,” Shirreffs said.

In the 2008 Apple Blossom, Zenyatta beat a group that included Ginger Punch, the 2007 champion older female. Zenyatta’s win in the 2010 Apple Blossom was her 16th consecutive win in a streak that went to 19. The 2010 Horse of the Year, Zenyatta was beaten in her 20th and final start, the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Classic at Churchill Downs.

Zenyatta won the 2010 Santa Margarita, her 15th career win.

Thursday, Eblouissante ($3) won a first-condition optional claimer by 1 3/4 lengths over 22-1 Pink Blossom, running 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.89. Ridden by Corey Nakatani, Eblouissante earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 83.

She closed from last in a field of five.

“She sat nicely and she moved up nicely,” Shirreffs said. “She stayed where Corey wanted her. At the end, she picked it up a little bit. She’d never been on this track, and it’s a sandy track.”

Owned by breeder Eric Kronfeld, Eblouissante made her first start Thursday since winning a maiden race at Betfair Hollywood Park on Nov. 16.

A 4-year-old by Bernardini, Eblouissante was scratched from an optional claimer at Hollywood Park on Dec. 15 when she struck her hip on a door in the track’s receiving barn. She resumed training the next day.