01/23/2013 4:14PM

Santa Anita notes: Cloudy Moon set to try two turns in California Breeders’ Champion Stakes

Shigeki Kikkawa
Cloudy Moon will try two turns in the $300,000 California Breeders’ Champion Stakes.

ARCADIA, Calif. – While trainer Doug O’Neill was away in Arkansas on Monday, watching Avare finish seventh in the Smarty Jones Stakes at Oaklawn Park, the stable won its biggest race of the young season with Renee’s Titan in the $150,000 Santa Ynez Stakes at Santa Anita.

For his next stakes runner, O’Neill will not be leaving his Southern California headquarters. O’Neill starts the promising filly Cloudy Moon in the $300,000 California Breeders’ Champion Stakes for 3-year-old California-breds over a mile. The race is one of six stakes at Santa Anita on Saturday’s Sunshine Millions program.

Cloudy Moon, owned by breeder Don Cohn’s Ballena Vista Farm, makes her stakes debut in the California Breeders’ Champion Stakes. After a second in a $50,000 claimer for maidens at Betfair Hollywood Park on Nov. 15, Cloudy Moon was perfect in December, winning a maiden special weight race for California-breds at Hollywood Park on Dec. 2 and a seven-furlong allowance race against open company here Dec. 31.

In the allowance race, Cloudy Moon outran Lady Rosamond, who was sixth in the Santa Ynez Stakes behind Renee’s Titan.

“She beat a nice filly the other day,” O’Neill said of Cloudy Moon.

Saturday’s race will be Cloudy Moon’s first start around two turns.

“I don’t think the mile will be a problem,” O’Neill said. “She trains well every day.”

O’Neill said Wednesday that he has no specific plans for Renee’s Titan, who won her first stakes in the Santa Ynez, closing well through the stretch to finish three-quarters of a length in front of Beholder, the champion 2-year-old filly of 2012. They may have a rematch in the $250,000 Las Virgenes Stakes for 3-year-old fillies over a mile on March 2.

“I think she can go a mile,” O’Neill said of Renee’s Titan.

He acknowledged that a fast early pace helped Renee’s Titan’s late kick.

“It did set up for her the other day,” he said.

The Las Virgenes may include Executiveprivilege, who was second to Beholder in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies here in November. Wednesday, Executiveprivilege worked a half-mile in 48.80 seconds, her second workout of the year.

No set plans for Avare after loss

Avare’s loss left O’Neill puzzled. The winner of the Eddie Logan Stakes on a wet-fast track here in December, Avare set the pace for the first half-mile of the one-mile Smarty Jones Stakes, but faded to finish more than 18 lengths behind upset winner Will Take Charge.

“He got anxious in the paddock,” O’Neill said. “He was angry by the time they got to the gate.”

Avare is scheduled to return to California this week.

Six stakes on Saturday card

The California Breeders’ Champion Stakes is one of two $300,000 races for statebred 3-year-olds Saturday. The open division of the same race will feature the 2012 stakes winners Monument and Weewinnin.

Of the four other stakes, the most prestigious is the $250,000 Santa Monica Stakes, a Grade 2 for fillies and mares over seven furlongs. Teddy’s Promise, winner of the Kalookan Queen Stakes on Dec. 29, will be favored.

The shortest-priced favorite of the day is expected to be Tiz Flirtatious in the $100,000 Valentine Dancer Stakes for California-bred fillies and mares over a mile on turf. Tiz Flirtatious was second in the Grade 1 Matriarch Stakes in November and the Grade 3 Robert Frankel Stakes on Dec. 30.

Puype looks to continue hot hand

Trainer Mike Puype’s stable had three winners Monday, its first hat track since May 7, 2011, at Hollywood Park. The winners left Puype in seventh-place at the winter-spring meeting, with five wins.

He could have another victory Friday when the 5-year-old mare Bodie Girl starts in an allowance race over a mile on turf. Bodie Girl has not raced since winning an allowance race against California-breds last April, a layoff that does not overly concern Puype.

“She seems to be ready to run,” he said. “The weather could be a bigger factor between now and then. If it rains, I don’t know if she could do the main track at Santa Anita.”

Pupye has starters in four races Friday and considers Bodie Girl his best chance. She must beat the English import Speedi Mouse and last race winners Marlenadarlena, Miss Pippa, and Miss Well Molded.