02/10/2012 3:35PM

Santa Anita: Indigo River may improve second time down the hill; pick 6 carryover is $135K

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ARCADIA, Calif. – The turf course at Santa Anita poses a challenge for any horse running on the unique downhill layout for the first time.

“You have to really know where you’re going,” jockey Joel Rosario said. “You go right first, and then you come left. Some horses are professional, and don’t care. Others, the second time, they know where they are going and they improve. They are more relaxed.”

The first time Rosario rode Indigo River on Jan. 13, she was not relaxed. A European import, Indigo River made her U.S. debut for trainer Jeff Mullins in a turf sprint that she won by a half-length. The margin was deceptive; she never looked like a loser. But Rosario always had his hands full.

“She was a little fresh the first time in this country, and a little into the muscle,” Rosario said. “But even though she was close to the pace, she kept going. I think if she can settle a little, she can finish better. I think she can improve.”

If Indigo River improves, the $70,000 Sweet Life Stakes for 3-year-old fillies Sunday at Santa Anita is hers for the taking. Eight entered the turf sprint; Indigo River’s recent local win and juvenile campaign in Europe make her a deserving choice in the race-8 feature. Sunday's card has a pick-six carryover of $135,446.

Earlier Sunday, potential star filly Princess Arabella makes the second start of her career in race 2. Bob Baffert trains Princess Arabella, smashing debut winner Dec. 31 and one of the most highly regarded 3-year-old fillies in California. Princess Arabella races seven furlongs against Sage d’Oro and three others in the seven-furlong main-track allowance.

Indigo River, meanwhile, is likely to race exclusively on turf. Owned by Michael House, her maiden win last summer in Ireland was validated when third-place finisher Wrote subsequently won three races, including the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf at Churchill Downs.

Sunday at Santa Anita, Indigo River faces a field that is largely unproven. Vionnet and She Spirit di Su won maiden races; Woebegone was the beaten favorite behind Indigo River; Midwest shipper Dypsy makes her first start in California and first on turf; Rowdy Gal switches to grass and drops in class; European shipper Dijarvo makes her U.S. debut.

Rosario expects Indigo River will rate more kindly in her second U.S. start, and deliver a stronger late kick. The $70,000 sprint stakes could lead to a stretch-out later this meet. The Grade 3 Providencia for 3-year-old fillies will be run at nine furlongs April 7.

She Spirit di Su won her U.S. debut for trainer Simon Callaghan, rallying from ninth in a one-mile turf race to win going away in stylish fashion. Callaghan-trained imports typically improve as their campaign unfolds. Jockey Rafael Bejarano may be sitting on the best finisher in the field.

Vionnet switched to the downhill Jan. 8 and ran to her pedigree. A daughter of Street Sense, Vionnet is the second foal produced by Cambiocorsa, whose 10 starts on the hill produced 8 wins, including five stakes. Vionnet is trained by Mike Puype; David Flores rides.