02/13/2013 1:25PM

Santa Anita: Shirreffs hoping Spring Bloom can get the distance in Friday feature

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ARCADIA, Calif. – Spring Bloom makes her first start at 1 1/4 miles on turf at Santa Anita on Friday, a stamina test that does concern trainer John Shirreffs.

Spring Bloom has two wins and a second in her last three starts since mid-November. A 4-year-old by After Market, Spring Bloom won her first start at 1 1/16 miles on turf against maidens at Betfair Hollywood Park in November and her first start at 1 1/8 miles on turf in an optional claimer for California-breds here Jan. 18.

“It seems like the After Markets love the distance,” Shirreffs said. “Without a doubt, they get better with age.”

Owned by breeders Pam and Marty Wygod, who raced After Market, Spring Bloom has won 2 of 8 starts and $90,518. Friday’s race is her first start against winners in open company. In the Jan. 18 race, Spring Bloom was third of seven early under Joe Talamo, took the lead on the final turn, and slowly pulled away to win by 1 1/2 lengths as the even-money favorite.

Spring Bloom was in front earlier than Shirreffs expected that day.

“She moved really early, we thought, but sometimes horses put you there,” he said.

Spring Bloom could run in stakes later this year, pending the results of Friday’s race.

“She’s got to make the steps,” Shirreffs said.

Talamo retains the mount on Spring Bloom in Friday’s seventh race, which drew a field of nine fillies and mares. There is one stakes-placed filly in the field in Viva Carina, who was second to Potesta in the Torrey Pines Stakes on the synthetic main track at Del Mar last summer.

Trained by A.C. Avila, the 4-year-old Viva Carina was fourth in the Grade 3 Autumn Miss Stakes over a mile on turf here in October and last of five behind the Shirreffs-trained Eblouissante in an optional claimer Jan. 17. Eblouissante is a half-sister to 2010 Horse of the Year Zenyatta.

Spring Bloom and The Only Key each won their last start. Bred in Britain, The Only Key won a $20,000 claimer on turf at Golden Gate Fields on Jan. 13 in her fourth American start. Owned by former Santa Anita president Ron Charles, The Only Key is entered for a $40,000 claiming price Friday.