03/25/2011 3:25PM

Santa Anita: No surface concerns for Briecat in Santa Lucia

Benoit & Associates
Briecat is the likely favorite in Sunday's $70,000 Santa Lucia Stakes at Santa Anita.

ARCADIA, Calif. – The 6-year-old mare Briecat is not fussy about footing.

“She can run on dirt, grass, synthetic,” trainer Vladimir Cerin said.

Briecat runs over anything.

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Having already won seven stakes on seven different surfaces, Briecat will try adding to her collection Sunday against six rivals in the $70,000 Santa Lucia Stakes. But wait – Briecat has never won a stakes race on dirt at Santa Anita.

That figures to change in race 5, a 1 1/16-mile restricted stakes for fillies and mares in which Briecat will be strongly favored against Burg Berg and Ash Zee. Four outsiders include I Can Hear, Church Camp, Jax El, and Sandi’s Ready.

Briecat finished her 2010 campaign winning stakes on dirt at Delta Downs and turf at Hollywood Park. She was 9 for 25 overall and had earned more than $500,000. But when owners Holly and David Wilson debated her future, Cerin said the discussion was simple.

“She does not have an exceptional pedigree, and we just thought it would be more fun to watch her run than go to the breeding shed,” Cerin said.

The Santa Lucia is the third 2011 start for Briecat, who set the pace and tired Jan. 29 in the $300,000 Sunshine Millions Distaff on dirt and then led to deep stretch and held second Feb. 21 in the Grade 2 Buena Vista on turf. On Sunday, she drops into a race restricted to fillies and mares that have not won a stakes this year at a mile or more.

Although stretch-out sprinter Church Camp and Burg Berg provide pace, front-runner Briecat does not require the lead.

“She doesn’t have to have the lead, no,” Cerin said.

In fact, Briecat has won stakes at Del Mar and Turf Paradise rallying from off the pace.

Pat Valenzuela rides Briecat, who drew the outside post where she can make the lead or press the pace. As for surface, Briecat has won three stakes on dirt (Delta, Fairplex Park, and Turf Paradise), two on turf (Hollywood and Turf Paradise), and two on synthetic (Hollywood and Del Mar).

Briecat, 9 for 27 overall, has earned $584,805, which is more than any progeny of the sire Adcat. The distance Sunday is perfect.

“It seems like seven and half to a mile and a sixteenth is her range,” Cerin said.

Burg Berg also is making the third start of her campaign while trying dirt for the first time. Church Camp stretches out for the first time. Jax El won an allowance race Thursday; her and Sandi’s Ready were supplemented to the Santa Lucia for $1,400.