04/03/2014 1:42PM

Santa Anita: Providencia Stakes features budding rivalry

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Benoit & Associates
Diversy Harbor outfinishes Nashoba's Gold in the China Doll Stakes last month.

ARCADIA, Calif. – They are two races into their careers, and already Diversy Harbor and Nashoba’s Gold have the makings of a rivalry.

After each winning a maiden race this year, Diversy Harbor and Nashoba’s Gold were first and second, separated by a half-length, in the China Doll Stakes at Santa Anita on March 8. They meet again in Saturday’s $150,000 Providencia Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, the lone turf stakes on Saturday’s 11-race program.

Aside from two Grade 1 races on the card, the Santa Anita Derby and Santa Anita Oaks, there are two $200,000 stakes for California-breds over 6 1/2 furlongs – the Echo Eddie Stakes for 3-year-olds and the Evening Jewel Stakes for 3-year-old fillies.

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The Grade 3 Providencia leads to the $200,000 Honeymoon Stakes on May 4 and the $350,000 American Oaks on May 31, races previously run at Hollywood Park. Those races are likely to include Diversy Harbor and Nashoba’s Gold.

In the Providencia over 1 1/8 miles, Diversy Harbor will be favored against nine rivals. The race drew a competitive field, including Tiz Kissable, third in the China Doll; Full Ransom, who won the Grade 3 Miesque Stakes in November and was a troubled 12th in the China Doll; Savings Account, second in the Miesque; and Margot Machance, a maiden race winner in her American debut March 15.

Gary Stevens rides Diversy Harbor, who is by Curlin. Owned by Glen Hill Farm and trained by Tom Proctor, Diversy Harbor beat maidens on the hillside turf course Jan. 26. She closed from 10th in the final furlong to win by 2 3/4 lengths.

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In the one-mile China Doll, Diversy Harbor closed from ninth in the final furlong. Considering her running style, Diversy Harbor should handle the longer trip in the Providencia, according to Proctor’s assistant, Aimee Dollase.

“She should be fine, the way she’s bred and how she trains,” Dollase said. “I think Gary can do what he wants. She’s versatile.”

Nashoba’s Gold beat maidens in her debut over 1 1/8 miles and cut back in distance for the China Doll.

“I don’t know I can say what she’s best at,” trainer Carla Gaines said regarding distance. “She ran a mile and an eighth because that’s all that was available when she was ready.”

Gaines thinks Diversy Harbor surprised Nashoba’s Gold when she went past her in the China Doll, and that Nashoba’s Gold has taken steps in recent workouts to prevent a repeat.

“The last few times we’ve worked her, we’ve had a horse come up the outside and asked her to run again,” Gaines said. “She’s just learning.”

Hollendorfer trio in Echo Eddie

The leader of the California-bred 3-year-old division is California Chrome, who starts as the favorite in Saturday’s $1 million Santa Anita Derby. Some of his old rivals are in the Echo Eddie Stakes.

Gangnam Guy, third to California Chrome in the Graduation Stakes at Del Mar last July, and Life Is a Joy, second and third to California Chrome in stakes in December and January, are among the nine runners in the Echo Eddie.

Jerry Hollendorfer trains Life Is a Joy and has two other runners in the Echo Eddie – last-race winners Whine for Wine and Pray Hard. Life Is a Joy was third to California Chrome in the California Cup Derby on Jan. 25 and fifth in the Baffle Stakes on the hillside turf course Feb. 16, an open race won by Red Outlaw, with Gangnam Guy second.

“I think he’s better on the main track than the turf,” Hollendorfer said.

Pray Hard, third to California Chrome in the King Glorious Stakes at Hollywood Park in December, will be a threat in the Echo Eddie. He won an optional claimer for statebreds Feb. 27, his lone start this year.

Trainer Mike Machowsky runs Gangnam Guy in the Echo Eddie, and he also has a contender in the Evening Jewel in Rovenna, the winner of an optional claimer over 6 1/2 furlongs Feb. 17. Rovenna has been second or third in three stakes for statebreds but has yet to win at that level.

The lone stakes winner in the Evening Jewel field is Sprouts, who won two sprint stakes last summer. She was 12th in the California Cup Oaks on Jan. 25.

Harlington’s Rose, trained by Steve Knapp, was fourth in the California Cup Oaks and won a four-runner optional claimer over six furlongs by 7 1/4 lengths March 14.