01/02/2013 2:57PM

Santa Anita: Luxuriance expected to run well in dirt debut

Shigeki Kikkawa
Derby Gold won the Echo Eddie Stakes last March, but enters a Friday optional claimer on a two-race losing streak.

ARCADIA, Calif. – When Luxuriance made a winning start to her career in a maiden race on turf in November, the surface was not trainer Kory Owens’s first choice.

“That was the race that came up,” he said.

Luxuriance followed that win at Betfair Hollywood Park with a game second in an optional claimer on the same course last month.

Friday at Santa Anita, the 4-year-old Luxuriance makes her first start on dirt, a surface that Owens expects will work in her favor. Luxuriance trains at Santa Anita on a regular basis.

“I think she’ll run well because that’s kind of her home track,” he said.

Owned by Kevin Owens, Luxuriance is part of a field of 12 in the sixth race, a six-furlong race for California-bred fillies and mares. She is likely to be near the front early. In her first start against winners Dec. 9, Luxuriance disputed the lead throughout and finished in a dead heat for second in a six-furlong turf race. In her debut, she was off slowly and closed from seventh in a field of 10.

“The first race she broke slow and didn’t really know what she was doing,” Kory Owens said. “She broke from the outside in her last start and had more speed. She kept digging in and digging in. I thought it was a good race.”

Luxuriance will be challenged for the lead by Church Avenue and Promiscuoussuances, winners in their last race who are entered Friday for a claiming price of $25,000.

Church Avenue won an optional claimer for California-breds over six furlongs at Hollywood Park on Nov. 22. Promiscuoussuances won a $25,000 claimer on turf at Hollywood Park on Dec. 6. Friday’s race will be her first 10th start, and first on a dirt track.

In Friday’s eighth race, Derby Gold, winner of the Echo Eddie Stakes here last March, will try to end a two-race losing streak in an optional claimer for California-breds over six furlongs. Trained by Bob Baffert, Derby Gold was fifth in the Real Good Deal Stakes at Del Mar in August and seventh in the California Cup Sprint here in October.

Derby Gold is part of a field of 13. One of his main rivals will be the 6-year-old gelding Master Chef, who was a game second in a race at this level at Hollywood Park on Dec. 8.