04/03/2012 3:25PM

Santa Anita: Pick six means keeping up with Jones

Benoit & Associates
Starry Skies, Joel Rosario up, overcomes a rough trip to win her debut for Marty Jones.

ARCADIA, Calif. – The pick six Thursday at Santa Anita is keyed around trainer Marty Jones, whose second-time starters Starry Skies in race 3 and Unbridled Ambition race 5 appear formidable on a good weekday card.

Starry Skies scored a powerful debut victory March 2 and is the likely allowance-race favorite. Unbridled Ambition finished a promising second in her debut on the same day and will be heavily backed in a maiden race for California-bred fillies and mares.

Both fillies sprint 6 1/2 furlongs on the downhill turf course that Jones has used for 6 of his 12 wins (53 starters) at the meet. Jones entered Thursday ranked eighth in the standings, and his win total is likely to increase Thursday.

“It’s going to be an interesting day,” Jones said. For 3-year-old filly Starry Skies, it could be an interesting career, because few maidens overcome the type of trip she endured a month ago. Starry Skies, by Sky Mesa, steadied and was away last, lost ground four wide through the sweeping turn, got fanned eight wide crossing the dirt, then powered home.

“We were ecstatic the about the way she ran. She was very impressive,” Jones said. “She acts like she could be something nice.” The race was validated when second- and sixth-place finishes Best Present Ever and Our Heat returned to win.

Starry Skies subsequently entered the $200,000 Evening Jewel on dirt last Saturday, but scratched.

“When she has a little more experience and seasoning, we wouldn’t be afraid of dirt at all,” Jones said. “But not at this stage of her career.” And not with a viable allowance alternative that will be run over a course on which she is already familiar.

Starry Skies has a new rider in Garrett Gomez, as Joel Rosario sticks with likely second choice Belle Passe. Belle Passe, trained by Peter Eurton, overcame a slow start to win her U.S. debut with a big late run. Two others also have downhill form. Hidinginplainsight and Vegas Babe each won maiden races last month.

Race 4 Thursday is a maiden filly dirt sprint, led by Splendid Fortune. A Giant’s Causeway filly owned and bred by Arnold Zetcher, she was produced by Zetcher’s graded stakes winner House of Fortune. In her debut last month, Splendid Fortune broke slowly from the rail, yet missed by only a half-length. She is trained by Bob Baffert.

Race 5 for California-bred maiden fillies and mares is the second start for Unbridled Ambition, who broke slowly and finished second as the favorite in her March 2 debut, two races after the win by Starry Skies.

Unbridled Ambition “has a lot of ability, too,” Jones said. “And she also made some mistakes. If she can ship back across town [from Hollywood Park [and clean up those mistakes, she should [improve].” Unbridled Ambition is out of California Cup Distaff winner Blind Ambition. Mike Smith rides Unbridled Ambition.

Race 6 Thursday is a second-level sprint for fillies and mares in which American Lady makes her first start since finishing last in the Grade 1 Test Stakes seven months ago. Her main rival is stakes-placed Mildly Offensive, racing for the first time in five months.

In race 7, an entry-level allowance turf route, European import Triveni makes her second U.S. start after encountering trouble and finishing fifth in her stateside debut.