04/11/2013 3:46PM

Santa Anita: Mizdirection prepping for road trip


ARCADIA, Calif. - Mizdirection is the undisputed leader of the nation's female turf sprinters, a status proven with a win in the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint against males here last November.

For 2013, the goals are oriented more toward mile races, notably the $500,000 Just a Game Stakes at Belmont Park on June 8. To get there, Mizdirection is starting in Saturday's $100,000 Las Cienegas Stakes over about 6 1/2 furlongs on the hillside turf course at Santa Anita.

Mizdirection will be a heavy favorite in the Las Cienegas to win her fourth consecutive stakes, and the eighth stakes of her career.

"Everything is going good for her," trainer Mike Puype said.

Puype and the partnership that owns the 5-year-old Mizdirection considered sending the mare to Keeneland for Saturday's Jenny Wiley Stakes over 1 1/16 miles on turf. They opted to stay at home and ship Mizdirection only once this spring, to Belmont Park.

"It makes more sense to stay home and only ship once," Puype said. "The bottom line is I would have asked her to go a mile and a sixteenth in good company."

Mizdirection is unbeaten in five starts on Santa Anita's turf course - four stakes on the hillside turf course and the Grade 2 Buena Vista Stakes over a mile on Feb. 18, her most recent start. She had a quiet period in late February before resuming serious training in mid-March.

"I back off of her every time she runs," Puype said. "She doesn't work again for three weeks, and I crank her up as she gets closer."

Puype is anxiously looking forward to the Grade 1 Just a Game Stakes, which will be Mizdirection's first start outside of California since a fourth-place finish in the Grade 2 Raven Run Stakes at Keeneland in October 2011. She was promoted to third in that race when a rival was disqualified.

Later this spring, Mizdirection will be tested in the Just a Game Stakes on a new turf course against a new group of rivals.

"I don't want to get one step ahead of myself," Puype said. "We're not taking this race lightly."

The Las Cienegas drew a field of six. Mizdirection will start from outside post and will be ridden by David Flores, who replaces regular rider Mike Smith. Smith is riding at Oaklawn Park on Saturday.

Flores rode Mizdirection when the mare won the 2012 Las Cienegas, a race moved to the main track because of wet conditions.

Mizdirection faces two other 2013 stakes winners in the Las Cienegas -- Purim's Dancer and Bench Glory.

Purim's Dancer, trained by Tom Proctor, won the Wishing Well Stakes on the hillside turf course in her most recent start Feb. 10. Bench Glory won the Irish O'Brien Stakes for California-breds on the hillside turf course on March 17, her first start since March 2012.

Puype also runs Schiaparelli, the sharp winner of an optional claimer on the hillside turf course March 14. The other runners are Dancingtothestars, who was third in the Irish O'Brien, and Givine, who won the 2011 Great Lady M Stakes at Betfair Hollywood Park but is winless in 14 subsequent starts.

European flavor in Runway

In Saturday's fourth race, Need You Now, a stakes winner in England last October, makes her American debut in the $70,000 Runway Stakes on the hillside turf course for 3-year-old fillies.

Trained by Mike Mitchell, Need You Now won 2 of 4 starts in England.

The field has a strong influence of former European runners, including Disko Dasko, a French-bred filly who won her U.S. debut on the hillside March 15; and Upward Spiral, who was fourth in the Group 1 Cheveley Park Stakes in England last September.

Upward Spiral was seventh in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint Preview here last November.