03/09/2012 4:29PM

Santa Anita: Izzy Rules will gun it in Las Flores

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Shigeki Kikkawa
Izzy Rules will be seeking her first graded stakes win in Sunday's Las Flores at Santa Anita.

ARCADIA, Calif. – The resurrection of Izzy Rules continues Sunday at Santa Anita.

Three months after she was risked for $20,000 in a claiming race, the revitalized speedster seeks her fourth straight victory, and first graded stakes, in the Grade 3 Las Flores Stakes for filly-mare sprinters.

A field of six entered the 6 1/2-furlong race, including Grade 1 winner Home Sweet Aspen and Grade 2 winner Great Hot. They are good, capable fillies, but they cannot beat what they cannot catch. This winter at Santa Anita, Izzy Rules has been uncatchable.

Jeff Bonde trains Izzy Rules for owner George Schmitt, and when they dropped her into a $20,000 claiming race in December at Hollywood Park, there were no takers. Good thing.

Izzy Rules won the claiming race by 4 1/2 lengths and continued her tear at Santa Anita. She wired first-level allowance sprinters Jan. 14 and then won again Feb. 3 the same way – wire to wire setting a wicked 21.33 opening quarter and 43.50 opening half.

It was a long way back for Izzy Rules, who won her first two starts including a stakes as a 2-year-old on the Northern California fair circuit. But halfway through her 3-year-old season, Bonde pulled the plug on her campaign. She did not start again for 14 months.

“She had a bunch of nagging injuries,” Bonde said. “It was never the same one, but she was kind of soft as a young horse.”

Nothing heals a horse as well as time, and at age 5, she is in the best form of her career with a 6-for-16 career record and recent Beyer Speed Figures of 96 and 94 that none in the Las Flores field have recently matched.

“It’s been proven that if you give a horse proper time, they will give something back,” Bonde said. “She’s matured and put herself together. And she has really appreciated the Santa Anita track.”

The dirt surface at Santa Anita generally favors speed, and if Izzy Rules and jockey Edwin Maldonado clear the Las Flores field as expected, they should be gone. Izzy Rules carries 118 pounds, five less than her main rival.

Home Sweet Aspen pressed her way to a soft-pace victory Jan. 28 in the Grade 1 Santa Monica Stakes, her fourth win from nine starts for Craig Stables and trainer John Sadler. The pace scenario of the Las Flores does not favor Home Sweet Aspen.

“She’s going to have to run from second, so that’s going to be a little different,” Sadler said. “But she has done it before.”

Home Sweet Aspen won a Santa Anita maiden race one year ago rallying from third.

Sadler said Home Sweet Aspen will be considered for sprints in Kentucky following the Las Flores, which makes sense because Sadler-trained Switch and Zazu have resumed training and will point to possible comebacks during the spring meet at Hollywood.

Others in the Las Flores field include Great Hot, who cuts back to a sprint after being compromised by a foot abscess last out; late-runner She’s Cheeky; allowance winner Veloce Canzone; and presser Spectacular Sky.