03/17/2011 4:12PM

Santa Anita: La Nez looks to rebound in Irish O’Brien


La Nez’s three stakes wins have been in $100,000 races for statebred females. She’s in another such event with a winning chance in Saturday’s Irish O’Brien Stakes on the hillside turf coursef at Santa Anita.

Trained by Eric Kruljac, La Nez won the California Cup Distaff over six furlongs at Hollywood Park last October, but lost her first two starts at this meeting – a sixth in the Grade 3 Monrovia Stakes on the hillside on Jan. 2 and a third in the Valentine Dancer Handicap for statebred females over a mile on turf on Feb. 26.

Kruljac was not discouraged by La Nez’s loss to division leader Unzip Me in the Monrovia.

“She didn’t have a good trip down the hill,” he said. “It was kind of wet that day.”

The Irish O’Brien drew a field of nine, including Saanneen, who has won her last two starts but never a stakes, and Strawberry Tart, who won two turf stakes in 2009, but has lost her last five starts.

“It’s a wide-open race,” Kruljac said. “We might as well roll the dice.”