04/03/2013 1:17PM

Santa Anita: French filly Nobilis has stakes potential

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ARCADIA, Calif. – In 2012, Nobilis finished second in a Group 3 race in France. That form has left trainer Simon Callaghan optimistic that she can become a stakes winner in California this year.

Friday at Santa Anita, Nobilis makes her U.S. debut in a first-level, optional $40,000 claimer over 1 1/4 miles on turf. Owned by Michael Tabor, Nobilis drew the rail in a field of eight.

“She has pretty good form,” Callaghan said. “She’s a nice filly. I think she’ll stay a little farther. She could run in the mile-and-a-half races against the boys as she gets older.”

By Rock of Gibraltar, Nobilis was trained in France by Andre Fabre. She was third going 1 1/2 miles in the Group 2 Prix de Malleret last June and second in the Group 3 Prix Minerve at 1 9/16 miles in August. Nobilis has 1 win in 8 starts, an allowance race at Longchamp last June. She arrived at Callaghan’s barn in late 2012.

“We were patient,” Callaghan said. “When she came here, she had a thick winter coat. This is a good place to start.”

In the Prix Minerve, Nobilis was beaten a neck by Forces of Darkness, who was second in the Hillsborough Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs in her U.S. debut March 9.

Callaghan has another French import in Friday’s fifth race. La Zubia, a 4-year-old filly by Montjeu, won an allowance race at Maisons-Laffitte in June, but was fourth and ninth in two subsequent starts in minor stakes. She was previously trained by Carlos Laffon-Parias.

“I think she can run well,” Callaghan said.

Of the runners with local experience, The Only Key and Warren’s Got Game are capable of winning, having finished second and third in a similar race Feb. 15. Both fillies were entered for $40,000 claiming prices that day and can be claimed again Friday.

The Only Key, trained by Dean Greenman for former Santa Anita Park chief executive Ron Charles, won a $20,000 claimer at Golden Gate Fields on Jan. 13. She tends to run near the front. Warren’s Got Game, trained by Bill Spawr, is a closer.

Trainer Peter Miller starts Roxelana, who was third in her American debut in a one-mile allowance race on turf here March 16. She won a minor race on the all-weather track at Lingfield Park in England last November.