04/06/2012 2:59PM

Santa Anita: Maiden winners face off on the hill


ARCADIA, Calif. – Darling Dodie ran a perfect race in her career debut against maiden California-breds on the hillside turf course on March 2, closing from off the pace to win by 4 1/4 lengths.

Unfortunately for owners Ran Jan Racing and trainer Mike Puype, the victory leaves the filly in the same situation as Starry Skies, a winner in her debut an hour before Darling Dodie.

The two fillies seem to be on the same career path. After winning maiden races on March 2, they will have the second starts of their careers in a $58,000 allowance race over about 6 1/2 furlongs on the hillside turf course on Sunday at Santa Anita.

“I have to improve to beat” Starry Skies, Puype said.

Sunday’s race is the third time in the last eight days that Starry Skies has been entered. She was scratched from the $200,000 Evening Jewel Stakes on March 31 and from an allowance race against open company on Thursday in favor of Sunday’s race.

Owned by a partnership and trained by Marty Jones, Starry Skies won her debut by a length, overcoming a slow start. She is a filly that Puype respects, and fears.

“Marty will have the horse to beat,” Puype said. “She ran a little quicker.”

If Starry Skies falters, Darling Dodie is capable of winning. Puype was impressed by the way Darling Dodie finished.

“She did everything asked of her,” he said. “She pulled away. I’m ready. I knew she could run. She did a little better than I thought she would.”

The allowance race is the top race on an eight-race program that begins at 12:30 p.m.

Darling Dodie and Starry Skies are two of three fillies in the allowance race who won their last starts. Tasty Treat won a $32,000 claimer on the hillside turf course on March 8, her second win in five starts.

Suances Flower may prove to be a danger from the front. Trained by Darrell Vienna, Suances Flower, 5, has been second and fourth in optional claimers for California-breds on the hillside turf course this year.

Shezabigbroad, third in an allowance race on April 1, and Catcus Flyer, eighth in a $25,000 claimer on March 16, are the other starters.

Shezabigbroad, trained by Mike Mitchell, is returning to a sprint after two one-mile turf races. She has been favored in her last three starts, but will not have that role on Sunday.