10/18/2012 4:31PM

Santa Anita: Kindle may try to run away with Sen. Ken Maddy

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Benoit & Associates
Kindle, with Edwin Maldonado riding, wins her division of the Bangles and Beads.

ARCADIA, Calif. – Circumstances are made to order Saturday for Kindle, a sharp front-runner who should be loose on the lead in the Grade 3 Sen. Ken Maddy Stakes at Santa Anita.

“I love the setup,” trainer Gary Mandella admitted. “Some of these horses have shown speed, but if you just go on their last race, my filly is the speed of the field.”

Nine fillies and mares entered the $100,000 Maddy, a turf sprint that Kindle and jockey Edwin Maldonado figure to control early. The challenge is maintaining control late while moving up in class.

Mandella cited “tougher competition” as the main issue facing Kindle, and he is right. A 4-year-old filly by Indian Charlie, Kindle has never faced graded stakes company, nor raced on turf. She will face a good field of established turf sprinters.

Her rivals include 3-year-old filly Byrama, who won both her starts on the hill, including an age-restricted stakes three weeks ago; Ninth Infantry, a potential upsetter returning to her preferred footing after misfiring on dirt; and 2011 Maddy winner Broken Dreams.

None is sharper than Kindle, impressive Sept. 21 comeback winner after a seven-month layoff. Racing 6 1/2 furlongs in the $50,000 Bangles and Beads at Fairplex Park, Kindle shot to the lead, sped the opening half four-fifths faster than any race at the distance (45.56 seconds) and won by three.

It was not a complete surprise. After her second consecutive flop in February, Mandella gave her time. “Her performances had tailed off,” he said. “She did not have an injury, and no surgery, she was just skin and bones. We thought she could use some time off.”

Foot issues postponed her comeback, which turned out a blessing in disguise. Mandella originally aimed for an allowance sprint at Del Mar, but Kindle was not ready. The stakes at Fairplex was the next-best thing, and her residual value was enhanced in victory.

Saturday, 3-for-6 Kindle can become a graded stakes winner if she handles turf. “I’ve always thought she would like turf,” Mandella said. “She has a ‘turfy’ foot, and she’s very handy.”

While only one of 16 turf sprints through Thursday was won by a horse who led at every call, the course generally plays fair to all styles.

A five-furlong bullet workout by Kindle was “done the right way” Mandella said.

Byrama won the $67,000 Unzip Me Stakes for 3-year-old fillies Sept.

29, her second win in as many tries on the hill. Rafael Bejarano rides the Simon Callaghan-trained filly, who is the 3-1 favorite on track linemaker Jon White’s morning line.

Ninth Infantry was unplaced in the Bangles and Beads, a performance that trainer David Bernstein attributes to the footing. Ninth Infantry has won 5 of 11 on turf.

Broken Dreams won the 2011 Maddy for trainer Tom Proctor. She shortens to a sprint after setting the pace in a Grade 2 turf race on Sept. 3 at Del Mar. Other entrants include Missdealornodeal, Teroda, Givine, Briecat, and Miss Mittagong.