04/18/2013 1:30PM

Santa Anita: Lady of Shamrock aims for the top in Santa Barbara

Shigeki Kikkawa
Lady of Shamrock has won five stakes in her 12-race career.

ARCADIA, Calif. – The expectations for Lady of Shamrock this year reach the top of the female turf division in the United States. Anything less than an appearance in the season-ending race in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf at Santa Anita in November will be a disappointment.

“She’s one of leading horses, if not our lead horse,” trainer John Sadler said on Thursday.

Owned by Kosta Hronis, Lady of Shamrock has won five stakes in her 12-race career, and will be heavily favored to add another in Saturday’s $150,000 Santa Barbara Handicap for fillies and mares over 1 1/4 miles on turf at Santa Anita.

Hronis and Sadler thought Lady of Shamrock would win her sixth stakes last month, in the Grade 2 Santa Ana Stakes over 1 1/8 miles on turf. Sent off as the even-money favorite, Lady of Shamrock finished second under Mike Smith, losing by a length to Tiz Flirtatious. Lady of Shamrock closed from last in a field of six to be closest to the front at the wire.

“Smith told me he thought he could have moved a little sooner,” Sadler said. “He was a little patient, but the winner ran very well.”

Lady of Shamrock has started twice over 1 1/4 miles on turf, winning the Grade 1 American Oaks against 3-year-olds at Betfair Hollywood Park last July, and finishing fifth, beaten 2 1/2 lengths in the BC Filly and Mare Turf here last November, her final start of 2012.

For the Santa Barbara, Sadler has two runners. He starts Moone’s My Name, a 5-year-old mare who was a fast-closing second in the American Beauty Stakes over a mile on turf under jockey Garrett Gomez in her U.S. debut on April 7. Moone’s My Name starts over 1 1/4 miles for the first time in her career on Saturday and will be ridden by Joe Talamo.

“She looks good,” Sadler said. “Garrett said she wanted farther.”

The Santa Barbara drew a field of seven, but none of the other fillies and mares has placed in a stakes this year.

Caelis, trained by Peter Miller, was third in the Grade 2 Marjorie Everett Handicap on the synthetic main track at Betfair Hollywood Park last May. A 5-year-old mare, Caelis won her only start of 2013, an allowance race over a mile on turf here on March 29.

The Only Key is a course-and-distance winner this year, in an optional claimer on April 5. She was eligible to be claimed for $40,000 that day. There were no takers then, or in January when she won a $20,000 claimer over 1 1/16 miles on turf at Golden Gate Fields.

Bred in Britain, The Only Key, 7, has won 2 of 6 starts since the start of her American career in early 2012 for owner Ron Charles and trainer Dean Greenman.

“When I first got her, she had a lot of problems,” Greenman said. Charles “gave me the opportunity to take my time and freshen her up.

“I like the distance, and it will be a short field. There is a tough filly in there in Lady of Shamrock, but she is not a Zenyatta.”