01/04/2013 4:32PM

Santa Anita: Mizdirection gets another shot on the hill in Monrovia

Tom Keyser
Mizdirection, winner of the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint, runs Sunday in the Monrovia, then will stretch out to a mile in the Buena Vista.

ARCADIA, Calif. – Mizdirection will make fewer right-hand turns this year than in 2012, when she won three sprints on Santa Anita’s right-turn-left-turn hillside turf course, including a season-ending triumph in the Grade 1, $1 million Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint.

The 2013 Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita remains the autumn objective for Mizdirection, but her path to that goal may change this season. The Grade 2 Monrovia Stakes on Sunday could be the last sprint Mizdirection makes on her favorite course until fall.

Trainer Mike Puype plans to stretch Mizdirection to two turns Feb. 18 in the Grade 2 Buena Vista Stakes, a mile turf race that will determine the direction of her campaign.

“If we can get the mile, be efficient at the graded stakes level and hold her form together until we cut back, that is the right thing to do,” Puype said. “We can only make her worth more by routing, and there isn’t a real sprint program for her midsummer.”

Mizdirection won a minor one-mile stakes at age 3, and Puype believes that as a 5-year-old she will carry her speed against better company. Mike Smith, who will ride Mizdirection on Sunday, concurred.

“Mike got off her after the Breeders’ Cup and said, ‘This filly is going to run long,’” Puype said.

Before facing Grade 2 Goldikova Stakes winner Rhythm of Light in the Buena Vista, Mizdirection meets a good group in the $150,000 Monrovia, including front-runner Kindle and horse-for-course specialists Byrama and Broken Dreams. Notwithstanding her seven wins and $914,621 from 12 starts, the Monrovia is not a slam dunk for Mizdirection.

“I don’t feel this is a freebie by any stretch of the imagination,” Puype said. “I didn’t put the pedal to the metal to make this race the focus of the whole year. It’s an important race for us, but I didn’t empty the tank to get to this race.”

While bettors will focus on Mizdirection, listed at 6-5 by track linemaker Jon White, one could argue she is not the most likely winner. And she certainly is not the one to catch.

Trained by Gary Mandella and ridden by Edwin Maldonado, the improving front-runner Kindle could pose an elusive target as she seeks her first graded stakes win. The Monrovia is her second attempt to stretch her speed 6 1/2 furlongs on the hill. The first time was suicide.

“She broke too sharp for her own good, and never came back to [Maldonado],” Mandella said, referring to the Grade 3 Sen. Ken Maddy on Oct. 20.

After a blazing half-mile in 42.53 seconds, Kindle squandered a five-length lead and tired to second behind Broken Dreams.

“I think [Maldonado] learned a little bit about her,” Mandella said, and his confidence in the rider was justified Nov. 23, when she rationed her speed and wired the $66,000 Cool Air Stakes at Betfair Hollywood Park.

Kindle gets a five-pound weight break from Mizdirection – 118 to 123 – and if the weather cooperates Kindle could be gone.

“I hope we get some sunshine and wind to dry the course out,” Mandella said.

Kindle has won four races and $143,370 from eight starts. She is the 5-2 second choice in the program.

Byrama, who last year won both of her starts on the hill against 3-year-olds, will roll late in her first start since finishing third behind Kindle and Broken Dreams in the Maddy.

Simon Callaghan trains Byrama, whose late-season objective at Santa Anita will be the Grade 3 Las Cienegas Handicap, a turf sprint April 14. Afterward, she may pack her bags.

“Come summer, there’s going to be options,” Callaghan said. “Polytrack she likes, Del Mar and Keeneland … we’ll ship her.”

Rafael Bejarano rides Byrama, 4 for 13 with earnings of $234,634.

The other entrants are first-time turf Curvy Cat, and late-running longshot Givine.